Palestinian Statehood Bid at UN and Its Implications

October 6, 2011

As you may have heard, Palestinian authorities have embarked on a major diplomatic effort to secure wider recognition of a Palestinian state and an upgraded status at the United Nations.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently submitted an application for full UN membership to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Palestine currently has the status of an observer entity at the UN General Assembly, where it is represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).  An application for full membership is currently being considered by the UN Security Council Committee on Admission of New Members.  The UN Committee will issue its analysis of the historic Palestinian bid for statehood around mid-October.

There are differing viewpoints on the statehood bid. Raji Sourani, well respected human rights lawyer, former Amnesty Prisoner of Conscience and founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Center was on Democracy Now recently discussing the Palestinian bid and the issues surrounding it:

Amnesty International does not take a position on the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the question of whether Palestine is a state or what its borders should be, or on the current bid for recognition of Palestinian statehood and UN membership.  As a human rights organization, our concern is that any resolution, initiative or agreement fully respects the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis, including access to justice, truth and reparations.

The bid does, however, raise questions about Amnesty’s work in the region and how or if it will be affected. And whatever the UN decides will have important implications for human rights concerns in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Amnesty recently issued a Q&A that addresses many of the most pressing and relevant questions.  The Q&A deals with questions like, “Will the bid for recognition of Palestinian statehood affect the legal standards applicable in the OPT, or Israel’s obligations as the occupying power (or have legal implications for the Palestinian Authority)?” and “How would the statehood bid affect efforts to pursue accountability for crimes under international law committed during the 2008-2009 conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, and what is Amnesty International calling for in this regard?”

Check out the Q&A and what you think are the human rights implications to the bid in the comments below.