International Commission for Human Rights   Commission Internationale pour les droits de l'homme   Comisión Internacional por los Derechos Humanos   اللجنة الدولية لحقوق الإنسان   国际人权委员会   Международная комиссия по правам человека

Palastine Project

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) and International Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) today hosted a conference entitled International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression: Children in Conflict - Peace for upcoming Generations. The conference explored the UN applicable mechanisms needed to address injustices to children and reviewed the prevailing situation that accounts for the ongoing abuses. The discussion examined ongoing armed conflicts such as the situation in Indian Held Kashmir, Palestine and Syria, where countless NGOs, agencies and observers have denounced the alarming situation children bear on daily basis as result of displacement, attacks and shortages; as well as disputes such as those entailing the traditional and Grassroots communities from Alaska, where children are constantly being neglected and discriminated due to their identities.

Speakers included Barrister A. Majid Tramboo, Chairman of ICHR and IHRAAM’s Permanent Representative to the UN; Dr. Ariel R. King, President of Ariel Consulting Intl and children human rights advocate; Ms. Lotte Claessens, child protection specialist; Dr. Krishna Ahoojapatel, Permanent Representative of WILPF to the UN; Ambassador Ronald Barnes, Permanent Representative of Indigenous Peoples and Nations Coalition to the UN and Prof. Nazir Shawl, Chairman of International Chamber for Peace and Conciliation.

As Chair and moderator, Barrister M. Tramboo outlined that children are probably the ones who suffer most from conflicts and unlike adults and elders who come to meet war and conflict after a life of relative peace, the impact of conflict affects children indeterminately for the rest of their lives. Barrister Tramboo then echoed the UN Secretary-General’s 2012 report on children and armed conflict, where some abuses in the current ongoing conflicts are so heinous that they represent grave violations of children’s rights under the UN Security Council Resolution 1612 that establishes six grave violations of children’s rights. He enumerated them as: recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming of children, rape and other grave sexual violence, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access to children. Such situations currently exist in conflict zones such as Indian Held Kashmir, Syria and Palestine-Israel.

Dr. Ariel R. King appreciated the holding of the conference and said that usually human rights are generally discussed from an intellectual point of view, nevertheless when dealing with human rights we must appeal to the heart and to feelings. She then shared a truly comprehensive and inclusive video presentation on children in conflict and the direct and indirect impact of conflict with all participants. “Shared responsibility also demands action” she added. Her associate, Ms. Elena Allendorfer encouraged all participants not to lose motivation to keep on fighting and defending the rights entitled to us by international law, especially not to give up on defending the rights of children who do not have a voice.

Dr. Krishna Ahoojapatel analyzed the developments on international law and highlighted that on most legislation women and children were always treated as one collective, but when it came to the ratifications, the states always responded differently. She classified the situation of conflict in four different categories: those perpetrated within the household, the one related to labor and exploitation, the one derived from war and terrorism and the one she called “collateral damage”, qualification she regarded as incongruous and deceitful.  She affirmed that the international community fails to implement all the legislation that has been made during decades; illustratively, she reported that after the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its ratification, the child labor has increased worldwide. She declared that “the image or murder and killings does not affect us anymore, we have seen it so much we are numb”. 

Ms. Lotte Claessens thanked the panel for the opportunity and started by outlining shocking figures such as:  by 2011, there were 200 million people directly affected by disasters, including 100 million children; the number of civilian victims in conflicts has risen from 5% to over 90%, out of which at least half are children and that currently 1.5 billion children live in conflict-affected or fragile states. When addressing Child Protection Violations, Ms. Claesssen established several forms: family separation, child labour, the use of children in armed forces or groups and sexual violence. She then elaborated on her on-field work experience in Indian Held Kashmir by outlining the major issues affecting children, amongst which are: decades of violence, conflict, insecurity and instability; high levels of psychosocial distress among their communities; continuous risk to physical harm, exposition to gender-based violence and an overall weak (social and legal) protection system.

Prof. Nazir Shawl affirmed that when a war or conflict erupts: “the rules by which we adhere to no longer apply”. He stated that both children and women have historically borne the brunt of wars, thus places where conflict rages, sexual violence against women and children is not only an individual but a collective wound; he highlighted that the rape of a girl or a woman is seen as an attack on their family and their culture which ignites the conflicts. Moreover “no peace treaty to date has formally recognized the existence of child combatants”, he emphasized, to which he added “the exploitation of children as soldiers persists in many armed conflicts because child recruiters are rarely held accountable; most child victims of violence and sexual abuse are girls, but boys are also affected both directly or indirectly”.

Ambassador Ronald Barnes gave two examples of conflict: landmines and depleted uranium from bombs, but states that aggression does not only include violence. Children can also be harmed in non-conflict situations. The United Nations adopted resolutions in 1949 calling for education to be in the Indigenous languages. Aggression comes in different forms for peoples of non-self-governing territories for peoples under colonial domination. The concept of aggression was first used to prosecute Nazi War Criminals under Nuremberg principles. The International Law Commission expanded those principles in 1947. The General Assembly adopted the definition of aggression under resolution 3314 (XXIX) in 1974. Damage can occur to the language and the culture, and the livelihood of the peoples.  He used the example of the Residential school system in Canada as another example of aggression and harm to children.

 

 

After a round of questions, and for the final remarks, Barrister Tramboo expressed his gratitude to all distinguished guests, and gave the honor to close the dialogue to Dr. Ahoojapatel who finally emphasized the necessity to read the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Charter and to advocate for it to be rightly implemented, so that the international community reaches its goals.

Published in Latest News

International Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)- Kashmir Project hosted an interactive dialogue and roundtable discussion on the International Day of Families entitled “Plight of Divided Families in Jammu and Kashmir” at its premises in Rue Belliard, Brussels. The roundtable explored the prevailing situation and approach of the international community towards the situation of families separated by armed conflict, namely those divided by the Ceasefire Line in Jammu and Kashmir. The event addressed the long existing impediments families have to reunite and see each other after years of being apart, and also posited the urgency of ensuring the human rights in the region, since family is the core element of society. 

The wide range of participants included personnel from the European Parliament and the Brussels political scene, UN representatives, NGO representatives, academics and other interested parties.

Speakers included  Barrister A. Majid Tramboo, Chairman of ICHR and IHRAAM’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Patrick Dolan, UNESCO Chair and Director -NUI Galway, Prof. Melissa Rancourt, Founder of Greenlight for Girls & the Head of Faculty -Boston University and Mr. Frank Schwalba-Hoth, Political Strategist and former Member of the European Parliament, who chaired the session.

Professor Melissa Rancourt, stated that on the topic of divided families and the impact of borders she faces two different perspectives, the first as Head of Faculty for Boston University Brussels and the second as founder of an international organization, Greenlight for Girls; within the university environment she often speaks about borders and how they impact their work and society, borders separate people by way of education, caste, wealth, poverty, language, politics religion and of course geography. She elaborated on borders describing them as imaginary lines sometimes mentally drawn but also most of the times physically placed, either by negotiation or imposition which emphasize differences in culture, language and belief. These borders, she said, become concrete barriers that limit potential, prevent opportunity and most unfortunately, divide families. She then described some of the regional cases she has worked with and studied where borders have brought families and whole societies apart.

Professor Patrick Dolan approached the subject specifying the importance of family as a human right. He shared with the participants the different features family policy comprises. Regrettably the problem of enforced family separation and its negative impact is not a recent event but one that has been going on by decades in all areas of the world, including the Kashmir region.  When it comes to the upbringing of children, the access to family support and a social environment becomes vital and a gateway to full integration in society; moreover, social empathy in children is achieved through role models, found within nuclear and extended. He emphasized on the role of family in any individual’s live, namely, that families are the greatest source of help and stress, being overall far more helpful since family is strongly connected to recovering from life events, such as those that take place in almost daily basis in the Kashmir conflict. The prominence of family for upcoming generations and the construction of human social capital is centered in its provision of health, both physical and mental; support in active learning; safety from accidental and intentional harm; economic security and security in the immediate and wider physical environment. 

In his opening remarks, Barrister A. Majid Tramboo referring to the elections in Pakistan, congratulated the newly Prime Minister elect of Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif who has in his past two terms put forward the Kashmir issue first; he then emphasized on the important role the new government can have in the Kashmir issue and for a more democratic path in Pakistan. Following, he stressed on the importance of the International Day of Families as it makes people remember the plight of divided families in Jammu and Kashmir who are facing for more than 65 years the impediments that hinder them from meeting their relatives across the ceasefire line. He stated that there are many factors which lead to a family’s division, and it is not only politics that divide families, but also that families themselves divide families.

When addressing how it is that the states divide families, he assesses there are 3 major bedrocks in relation to the situation in Kashmir, which are the following:

1) The historical view of the division of Kashmiri families, and how the families of Jammu and Kashmir can’t see each other in  normal circumstances

2) The current reality where people have been continuously displaced because of the conflict in Kashmir, being the displacement internal or external. 

3) The existence of a conflict in an area, which is then targeted by the government that decides to tackle it down, leading to the detention of family members and the voluntary displacement in the search for safety, which thereafter results in the division of families for years.

Barrister Tramboo then stated that the division has a devastating impact on families since the family’s communication and bonds are enormously damaged particularly in the situation of Kashmir. This point was carried further by bringing to the floor different testimonies of Kashmiris that have been victims of the implementation of the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan. Barrister Tramboo stressed the urgency to unite the Kashmiri families by referring to the European Parliament report presented by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourned which stresses on the points 36, 37, 39 and 40 the urge to reunite families through the opening of 5 crossing points, although he mentioned the bureaucratic obstacles that the crossing involves. Barrister Tramboo noted that some of the points of the reports have not been implemented and hence called upon the European Union to take factual action into the reunification of Kashmiri families and the complementing aid that the fostering of civil society, trade and tourism would bring to the region.

Concluding the roundtable, the Chair Mr Frank Schwalba-Hoth, further elaborated on the situation in Kashmir, where human rights are systematically being neglected, tearing families apart and endowing future generations with unstable and unsafe societies. Mr. Schwalba-Hoth thanked the organization for bringing this reality to the attention of the Brussels’ political scene and thanked the participants for attending the event.

 

Published in Latest News

International Council for Human Rights (ICHR) in association with Phil Bennion MEP hosted an interactive dialogue and roundtable discussion entitled Thirsting For Justice at the Residence Palace. The roundtable explored the prevailing situation and approach of the international fraternity towards the environmental concerns and human rights in relation with the water disputes. It cited the existing lacunae and also posited the vitality of ensuring the human rights and quality environment. In this respect, the roundtable focused on the Indo-Pak water dispute and the Kashmir issue and the Israeli-Palestinian water dispute.

Wide range of participants included diplomats, personnel from the European Commission and the Parliament, UN representatives, NGO representatives, civil society leaders, human rights defenders and other interested parties.

Speakers included Barrister A. Majid Tramboo, Chairman of ICHR, Mr. Phil Bennion, Member of the European Parliament, Ms. Jean Lambert, Member of the European Parliament, Mr. Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament, Professor Nazir Shawl, Chairman of the International Chamber of Peace and Conciliation, Professor Ashok Swain, water expert from Uppsala University, Dr. Undala Alam, Indus Water Treaty expert from Warwick University, Dr. Nidal Salim, Director and founder of the Global Institute for Water Environment and Health (GIWEH), Mr. Almotaz Abadi, Special Advisor  to the Palestinian Minister of Water Authority, Professor Haim Gvirtzman, the Institute of Earth Science at Hebrew University, Ms. Josephine Barbas, Legal Researcher in the Legal Research and Advocacy Department at Al-Haq Organisation, and Mr. Frank Schwalba-Hoth, Political Strategist and former Member of the European Parliament.

Chairing the first part of the event, Mr. Phil Bennion MEP thanked Barrister A. Majid Tramboo and ICHR for organising the event. He stated that the importance of water lies not only on its use in agriculture but also in washing, sewage, cleaning and in it is use for everyday activities. He stressed that it is necessary to acknowledge the importance of cooperation when dealing with water resources given the existence of many cases where there are political problems between neighboring countries sourced on the management of transboundary water. He affirmed that it is important to realize that water management can also mean an opportunity to increase collaboration.

 

In his opening remarks and moderating the roundtable, Barrister Tramboo thanked all the guests for participating in the event and invited the speakers to suggest recommendations for the situation of water in conflict. Barrister Tramboo underlined that despite complex situations, record shows that water disputes can be handled diplomatically. Nevertheless, he accentuated that treaties still reveal significant weaknesses since it is countries themselves whom, at the end spell out the applicability of the conventions on their watersheds, so is the case of Pakistan and India and the overlooked role of Kashmir over the water dispute within the region. 

 

Professor Nazir Shawl opened his intervention by affirming that, despite decades of attention, the Kashmir dispute remains one of the most persistent and heated conflicts in international relations. He further elaborated on the current situation stating that water emanating from Kashmir has been gravely misused; more than 67 dams and barrages have been constructed by India in Indian Held Kashmir for the purposes of hydro electrical power generation; this has created many problems for Kashmir and Pakistan. Prof. Shawl emphasized that Kashmiris have been deprived from their own resources by the limitations of the Indus Water Treaty and the desired flow to Pakistan is also threatened. He went on saying that Jammu & Kashmir has been stuck in a development rut that is largely responsible for the lack of stability and security that could play a critical role in the conflict resolution.

Professor Ashok Swain highlighted that despite the lack of trust between Pakistan and India there has been an agreement for more than 52 years. On the other hand, the treaty is 53 years old and it no longer takes the current reality into account. He then stressed on the need to move forward onto a treaty that takes into consideration the Kashmiri needs and demands. He elaborated on how the damns can and are used for geo-strategic purposes but reminded that they also should be used to benefit the region as a whole. He concluded that both India and Pakistan should come forward to renegotiate the Indus Water Treaty Agreement into a comprehensive and integrated form of basin management and establish a joint and independent river basin organisation, the benefit sharing of it will not be limited only to water resources; it might have other peace-enhancing effects and significantly contribute to the regional security and development. It is high time now to move to the next stage in Indus river cooperation.

Dr. Undala Alam emphasised that the Indus Treaty is the only one that has had the World Bank as signatory and that despite it being improbable it still is a remarkable treaty. She particularized that the critical thing about water lies on the fact that it flows; hence water differentiates itself from gold, oil or coal because it cannot be contained, one can only have the illusion of containing it, it will always move on. She brought up the intergovernmental cooperation on the Senegal Basin as an example of outstanding cooperation.

Jean Lambert MEP referred to the 2007 European Parliament resolution on Kashmir and explained how it made reference to the Indus Water Treaty; it urged the Governments of India and Pakistan to resolve the crucial river issues affecting the use of the rivers flowing through Kashmir as swiftly as possible. It also talked about water security and sustainable energy supply for the stability and growth of the region, and to consult the Kashmiri views over the river issues. She also addressed the issue from an ecological point of view stressing the effect pollution and climate change is having on the water conflict in South Asia. She also underlined the economic impact water and its quality has in cotton production, a huge sector in the region’s economy.

Helmut Scholz MEP began by giving the water dispute between Germany and the Czech Republic as an example of how cooperation on water is needed all around the globe. He highlighted that water is also highly important for transport and farming activities. As a member of the Committee on International Trade he remarked that, in relation to water,  trade can offer a good opportunity to even economic differences between neighboring countries.

The roundtable discussed in its second part the Palestinian-Israeli water dispute and the human right to water and sanitation in the region. On behalf of the Palestinian Minister of Water, Mr. Almotaz Abadi gave the Palestinian official stand on water issues. He stated that in the occupied State of Palestine a severe water shortages and acute water quality problems continue to negatively affect the lives and livelihoods of more than 4.2 million of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He declared that without access to and control over their rightful share of the trans-boundary freshwater resources located in the occupied West Bank, and without an end to Israel’s punitive land, air and sea blockade over the Gaza Strip, Palestinians have little hope of improving their current economic situation and no hope of building a sovereign and viable Palestinian state.

Professor Haim Gvirtzman alleged that water supply under Jordanian Control over Palestine was far less developed than during Israel control. He elaborated on Israeli water control by declaring that 98% of Palestinian villages and towns are now connected to water supply provided by Israel’s water companies, therefore, water supply has tripled in comparison to Jordanian ruling. 

Ms. Josephine Barbas gave a different approach to the discussion by addressing the topic under the terms of international law. She explained how the Oslo Accords of 1994 did not have the expected outcome since there was not any improvement of Palestinians access to water.  She stated that 60% of the West Bank -thus the access to seawater- is controlled by Israel. She appealed that Palestinians have no access to their rightful water resources. She further addressed the water dispute and Israel’s water control by analyzing it under 3 legal frameworks: the International Humanitarian Law, the International Human Rights Law and the International Water Law.

Dr. Nidal Salim described with figures how difficult it is to the Palestinians to access water and how the lack of accessibility is affecting their health. He stated that destruction of water cisterns, wells and other essential water infrastructure, access to water has become a tool of disposition used by Israel to target some of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities in the occupied Palestinian state resulting in forced displacement and that the current conflict is not between two equals but between one with all the power and another one who is not powerful and hence is being invaded.  

Concluding the roundtable, Mr. Frank Schwalba-Hoth stated that development is one of the priorities of the EU over the last decades and indicates it clearly: in the fifties "water policy" was a non-issue, now it has become - in its different facettes - one of the key concerns of the EU. We are confronted with armed conflicts as a consequence of water shortage and lack of respectful cross-border water arrangements; with a decrease of food production through depletion of aquafers; with health problems through water pollution; with social injustice through water privatisation. What is needed is more regional cross-border water manangement and a push towards a new generation of desalinisation technology through decentralised units for local residents. He declared that the EU has to accept its leadership role in a sustainable water policy worldwide.

The roundtable panelists presented various recommendations which will be compiled in due course of time.

 
Published in Our Events

International Council for Human Rights (ICHR) and International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) hosted a full day conference entitled Protecting & Promoting Women’s Rights at Palais des Nations in Geneva on 7th of March 2013.  The conference explored international women’s human rights issues in general and within conflict areas in particular, as well as the applicable international legal framework, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in the context of violence against women, rape, and women human rights defenders. Following the conference, the Chair and two Rapportuers prepared and compiled the recommendations that came from the two sessions and submitted the following recommendations: 

Dr. Krishna Ahoojapatel, Permanent Representative Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

There were multilayered recommendations presented by the panel on how to reduce sexual violence against women and make women more aware of their human rights. However, what was lacking in the analysis of some knowledgeable statements during the session was the deeper cause of why sexual violence -particularly rape- occurs and its direct impact on women´s health, well-being and social and economic structure. Whilst there are several philosophical and political reasons that can be analyzed to explain this, we need to delve deeper into the mindset of the male in order to understand how and why there is frequently a need for them to control women’s bodies to show power and privilege. 

The recommendations made by the various speakers differed in methodology and ultimate solutions. Despite this, some common features did emerge from the speakers’ statements, most notably the role of the media in portraying violence and the age old habit of women to submit to and to be subordinate to men.  It appears that no systematic effort is being made by any society to integrate and teach males to respect women and to learn to behave in a manner which accorded dignity to women. The serious consequences of violence on health were also discussed. Intergenerational conflict and traditional teaching by women themselves perpetuate the problem as irrespective of the education of the mother, by habit, by tradition, by religious practices, women as mothers continue to discriminate against their daughters.

 

Prof. Fozia Nazir Lone, Women’s Rights Expert, University of Hong Kong

Women’s human rights in the Kashmir conflict were presented as being different to those experienced by women in Rwanda or Bosnia as this is a conflict which is still continuing, which made it more difficult to find solutions. The speaker mentioned that sexual violence is a weapon of war and is used as such in Kashmir. In addition to rape, other crimes are also committed by the state authorities and administration, such as those carried out whilst conducting body-searches of women. Similar kinds of atrocities took place in Rwanda where acts of genocide where committed against women.

Prof. Lone recommended in the context of the Kashmir conflict that women’s concerns are included at all stages of pre conflict and peace process so that they are included and implemented in the post conflict agreement. A transitional justice system needs to be created, such as truth commissions and other tribunals, to hear and address the concerns of Kashmiri women in conflict, since it is impractical to wait until the conflict ends as this is unlikely in the immediate future. 

 

Dr. Lale Say, World Health Organisation (WHO) 

Dr Lale explained that violence against women inflicts much psychological and emotional harm which in turn could lead to further violence and depression and also includes acts such as rape and genital mutilation. Statistics were presented highlighting the widespread prevalence of violence by intimate partners in many societies as well as their consequences on women’s health across cultures. 

Accurate statistics are difficult to compile because they differ from continent to continent and from country to country and are also not always reported by women who undergo violence, but the percentages for intimate partner violence are high worldwide. Studies reporting violence in conflict settings or non-partner violence show that these are also highly significant forms of violence against women. Some of the health consequences of violence included: femicide, suicide, AIDs related mortality, maternal mortality, pregnancy complications, abortions, low birth weight, and perinatal problems which could later develop into physiological and behavioral risks.

Speaking on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO), Lale stressed the need to promote gender equality and the need for a multi-sectoral response in order to reduce the human rights violations that occur. She conveyed these points through quoting rigorous but disturbing statistics, including the high percentage of physical violence on pregnant women.

 

Mary-Ann Mills, Vice-Chair the Kenaitze Indian Tribe and Tribal Court Judge 

Mary -Ann stated that Alaska has been overlooked by the rest of the world as it struggles with very high rates of violence against indigenous women and described the situation in Alaska as a ‘crime scene’. Around one third of all women have been raped: Alaskan women have among the highest rate of sexual violence in the world. There were also high rates of trafficking and death; 86% of raped women have been raped by non- Alaskan men.  Mothers prepared their daughters for what to do in the event they were raped.  She stated that the US has obligations under international law to protect all people of America, including the women from Alaska.  Mary-Ann Mills suggested ways for preventing such atrocities against indigenous women. For all these reasons she stated that Alaska needs self -determination at the top of the Human Rights Council agenda. 

 

Prof. Frances Heidensohn, Gender and Justice Expert, London School of Economics and Political Science

Prof Heidensohn presented 6 steps for improving women´s rights and made some recommendations which included having more women in law enforcement and the criminal judicial system. For example, she advocated more women in police stations and the creation of special courts to hear rape and domestic violence cases by specially trained lawyers. She also recommended more social measures for the empowerment of women to reduce the number of forced marriages and greater access to education. Prof Heidensohn stressed that crimes against women were often not taken seriously, women themselves often did not report such incidents for fear of shame and they attracted light sentences. She suggested that urgent steps must be taken to tackle these inequalities wherever they exist and that gender violence is to be made a high priority. She also emphasized the need for more research from a feminist perspective and stressed that welfare should be considered as a part of judicial procedures. She specifically recommended that Western media should not be copied on the way they portray gender violence. 

 

Prof. Veerle Draulans, Gender Studies, University of Leuven, Belgium / Tilburg University, Netherlands 

In her statement, she stressed that “awareness of our own personal views is a precondition for true dialogue”. It should not be forgotten that men and boys can also be victims of violence, although less in number. Unfortunately several countries continued to train children to become soldiers and to kill early in their lives, some as young as seven or eight years of age. For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRG) children’s work and remuneration in mines were means of financing conflicts.

Prof. Draulans highlighted the tension between the media’s positive role in spreading messages related to women’s rights and gender issues and its negative role in ‘sensationalizing’ sexual and physical violence since such stories ‘sell’. She recommended that media should not portray the woman’s body as a symbol of subordination but rather as a signifier of resistance.

 

Dr. Suzanne M. Clisby, Women’s Rights and Gender Studies, University of Hull 

In Dr Clisby’s analysis, she suggested that violence against women should be considered as a continuum ranging from minor acts to the more serious acts of violence which occur during conflict. She stressed the need to look closely at patriarchal societal norms to analyze the exact relationship between gender and power and how this affects people’s life chances. She described it as a relationship embedded in society, and noted that there had been a large shift from the denial of violence to its existence. She noted that violence was underpinned by gender differences.

Dr. Clisby believed gender based and minority organizations from local to national levels needed continued support to translate good policy rhetoric into good practice. This required resources through funding and capacity building over long periods.

 

Prof. Melissa Rancourt, Chairperson and Founder, Greenlight for Girls. Head of Faculty, Boston University

An estimated 10 million girls each year are married before the age of 18.  It is necessary to encourage education for girls in less advantaged communities, as the NGO Greenlight for Girls does.  They have met girls whose families decided that they must fetch water and do the washing rather than to go to school.  The girls indicate that they must stay home when they begin their menstruation as their families are worried that their safety is at stake if they left the home unattended, they fear their girls will be the victims of violence and rape.  Hence, the main recommendation is:

The creation of an education programme to teach the importance of equal rights, to instil confidence and the importance of role models and to inspire children around the world that anything is possible.  And to lead or support any initiative to educate boys and girls, men and women about equal rights and non-discriminatory practices.

Echoing Prof. Lone, Prof. Rancourt recommended the UN to “extend the promise to protect Kashmir’s women whose voices remain muted in a never-ending conflict”.

 

Dr. Mazahir Osman, Chairperson, International Muslim Women Organization 

Women in conflict areas are the most vulnerable of all as regards to discrimination and violations of rights; therefore:

In order to combat violence against women and minorities there must be a special Commission of minority issues to address the needs of minorities -in particular women minorities and their day to day abuses inflicted upon them;

There must be provision of psychosocial services through well trained social workers as well as social provision of development services through women development centres;

The UN should exert more pressure on the rich industrialized countries of the North  to be committed to the agreed upon on the 7.7 percentage of their GNP, and be more generous in donating more money and technical assistance to the areas of conflicts and wars- for it is wiser to spend for peace than to spend for war; 

Governments in areas of conflicts and war are advised to be more transparent and wiser in their policy making. Furthermore, these Governments should have effective mechanisms to monitor and ensure that these assistance and aids reach those intended for;

The civil society organizations themselves have to foresee, monitor, follow-up and expose any kind of violations and exert pressure on Governments. A very essential role of these organizations is also to raise awareness; and

Mass media's role is to expose violations on the local level, whereas at the international level it is to call and appeal for more humanitarian assistance and financial aids, while exposing those who incite conflicts and wars, and to expose all extremists from all sides and have their efforts failed and aborted.

 

Dr. Emma Brannlund, Women activism in Kashmir, NUI Galway University

Kashmir Valley, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, is in a state of insecurity. The more than 60 years of international conflict has had immense impact on Kashmiri society; among many concerns are unemployment, destroyed infrastructure, low economic development, broken families and widespread depression, anxiety, as well as other mental health problems. The conflict has had disproportionate effect on civilians and over 70000 people have been killed since the insurrection started in 1989 (Butalia, 2002). The gendered nature of conflict has resulted in different impact on women and men respectively. Since 2010there has been renaissance in civil activism in Kashmir; the socio-political climate in Kashmir is now conducive to support and engage pro-actively with groups working on the ground, supporting women activists, especially the younger generation. Therefore, according to the following issues, it is necessary to:

Legal issues:

Work towards a gender sensitive police and judiciary;

Repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA);

React against new proposed Police Bill;

Have more women’s police stations in Srinagar and urban Kashmir; and

Create and implement a Women’s Reservation Bill.

Social Issues:

Raise awareness around gendered violence – in specific Domestic Violence and eve teasing;

Support organisations dealing with half-widows and widows;

Organise workshops on gender roles for both boys and girls/men and women;

Improve Sex education;

Work to empower girls and women in different ways;

Support girls’ involvement in after school activities, such as arts classes and sports; and

Support structures for women’s meetings, roundtables and conferences, where women from different sections of society and ages can meet and share experiences.

 

Sylvia McAdam, Co-founder, Idle No More

The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreements in Canada meant that First Nations Peoples in Canada would share the land while retain their inherent rights to lands and resources. However this has not occurred and the taking of resources has left many lands and waters poisoned. This has affected negatively the communities’ life style in the light of their own laws, thus obstructing people´s exercise of their rights, especially women who need the land for medical purposes. Measures must be taken to address this trespass:

Oppose Omnibus Bill C45 and any other legislation that extinguish the Treaty of Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and

Help expose the devastation in land, water, animal welfare and human life in the Treaty territories in the Canadian State in order to improve women’s rights  and the community  altogether.

 

Princess Micheline Djouma, President, OCAPROCE

Cases of violence against women are the most frequent and most pernicious matter of violation of human rights. Sexual violence and rape are considered the most undeclared crimes in the world. Furthermore, genital mutilation is one of the many violent acts against young women and girls which leads to health problems, not only physical ones but also psychological, and it increases -according to specialists- the risk of HIV infection. Despite several international declarations there is still a lack of the necessary political initiative and will to tackle these violations. Hence it is necessary to:

Empower women at the negotiation table and within the state institutions;

There must be a simplification and a following promotion of texts relating to women’s rights to make these legal instruments accessible to the citizenry;

Plans must be made in the political, economic, social and jurisdictional scope;

The access to judicial procedures must be free of charge and simplified, for women to fully exercise their right to justice;

Prevention must be primary, multi-sectorial and multifaceted;

Prevention must not only be targeted to women and girls but also to men and boys; and

There must be campaigns and a policy of sensitization to make society realize the negative impacts violence has over the health of the victims.

 

Dr. Mareike Schomerus, Justice and Security Research, London School of Economics and Political Science 

Transformative change needs a determined shift: away from normative values, away from frameworks that are too general to be implementable. Instead, specific understanding of contexts and situations in which a whole range of women find themselves needs to be analysed and understood to develop measure that can bring about substantial change.

 

Ms. Shamim Shawl, International Muslim Women’s Union

Kashmiri women contributed a lot in all aspects of life during the ongoing armed conflict in the region. But here is not enough International and intellectual debate on this subject, their movement has not found much voice beyond the Kashmir valley. According to Human Rights Watch’s ‘World Report’ on India in 2012, impunity for abuses committed by Indian forces continue in Jammu and Kashmir. Government report states that only one person has been convicted of rape there in the last five years and the majority of cases are still undergoing investigation.  According to authentic international organisations, over 10,000 women have been raped in Kashmir between 1989 and 2013. As such it is recommended:

There must be specific focus on the situation in Kashmir with further investigation on the violent rapes that have taken place in Indian Held Kashmir as it is clear that the military officers from the Indian military are responsible for war crimes, and the Indian government needs to hold perpetrators to account for their actions;

There needs to be a system of accountability for such crimes, and the Acts such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), should not be used to exempt officers for such crimes;

Accusations of rape need to be taken seriously, and prompt investigation by local police should be supported. Special training should also be provided to police officers in order to help them collect sufficient evidence that can be presented at any trial. Human Rights Watch recommends allegations to be tried in civilian courts rather than military ones in order to promote transparency, and that those convicted of such crimes should be punished and named openly, in order to serve as a deterrent to any would be rapists;

Police and doctors; who would be the first point of contact with victims of rape should also be trained in dealing with victims in a sensitive manner, whereby they can be guaranteed some form of privacy, in order to avoid them becoming stigmatized;

Human Rights organisations and the media must also be sensitive to the victims of rape, as they often have to recount their tragedy which can be traumatic. Many have had their pictures taken by the media, which may be counter productive for many women, as they can be easily identified and singled out for harassment. Such reporting also needs to be followed up by organisations;

The lack of psychological rehabilitation clinics and camps for women in Kashmir is very important and must be addressed;

The absence of women from negotiations at conflict zones is another reason to advocate women victims;

Impartial and independent investigation of all cases of rape in Kashmir; and

Special Rapporteur on violence against women needs to undertake a visit to Kashmir.

 

Dr. Neil Buhne, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, United Nations Development Fund (UNDP)

Women remain under-represented in the political, economic and social (including legal) spheres in conflict and post conflict contexts. In terms of programming, in general, the international community has failed to deliver adequately for women and girls and this arena of work is poorly financed. The SG Report on Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding (2010) has a seven point action plan for gender-responsive peacebuilding in three of areas, namely: 

Inclusive economic recovery: given that there are suggestions that a relationship between jobs, social cohesion, female employment and peaceful decision-making;

Inclusive governance: Women often participate in movements for change in diverse roles but rarely enjoy participation and voice in post-conflict interim and permanent institutional structures. While UNDP and partners have contributed significantly to women’s political participation in post-conflicts, current trends in the world suggest that we need to protect the gains for women in those settings and address possible regression of women’s rights in many other regions; and

Access to Justice, especially for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, with a strengthening of the Rule of Law given that many national laws and judicial systems continue to discriminate against women, both in law and in enforcement.

Overall, there must be more emphasis on the implementation not only on monitoring and reporting. There must be recognition that there are issues with gender differences in resilience when dealing with crisis and these issues need to be addressed. Women are affected differently in conflict than they are in war; conflict can further marginalize women."

The recommendations have been conveyed to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as to all the relevant institutions that integrate the European Union. 

Published in Latest News

International Council for Human Rights (ICHR) in association with Phil Bennion MEP hosted an interactive dialogue and roundtable discussion entitled Thirsting For Justice at the Residence Palace. The roundtable explored the prevailing situation and approach of the international fraternity towards the environmental concerns and human rights in relation with the water disputes. It cited the existing lacunae and also posited the vitality of ensuring the human rights and quality environment. In this respect, the roundtable focused on the Indo-Pak water dispute and the Kashmir issue and the Israeli-Palestinian water dispute.

Wide range of participants included diplomats, personnel from the European Commission and the Parliament, UN representatives, NGO representatives, civil society leaders, human rights defenders and other interested parties.

Speakers included Barrister A. Majid Tramboo, Chairman of ICHR, Mr. Phil Bennion, Member of the European Parliament, Ms. Jean Lambert, Member of the European Parliament, Mr. Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament, Professor Nazir Shawl, Chairman of the International Chamber of Peace and Conciliation, Professor Ashok Swain, water expert from Uppsala University, Dr. Undala Alam, Indus Water Treaty expert from Warwick University, Dr. Nidal Salim, Director and founder of the Global Institute for Water Environment and Health (GIWEH), Mr. Almotaz Abadi, Special Advisor  to the Palestinian Minister of Water Authority, Professor Haim Gvirtzman, the Institute of Earth Science at Hebrew University, Ms. Josephine Barbas, Legal Researcher in the Legal Research and Advocacy Department at Al-Haq Organisation, and Mr. Frank Schwalba-Hoth, Political Strategist and former Member of the European Parliament.

Chairing the first part of the event, Mr. Phil Bennion MEP thanked Barrister A. Majid Tramboo and ICHR for organising the event. He stated that the importance of water lies not only on its use in agriculture but also in washing, sewage, cleaning and in it is use for everyday activities. He stressed that it is necessary to acknowledge the importance of cooperation when dealing with water resources given the existence of many cases where there are political problems between neighboring countries sourced on the management of transboundary water. He affirmed that it is important to realize that water management can also mean an opportunity to increase collaboration.

 

In his opening remarks and moderating the roundtable, Barrister Tramboo thanked all the guests for participating in the event and invited the speakers to suggest recommendations for the situation of water in conflict. Barrister Tramboo underlined that despite complex situations, record shows that water disputes can be handled diplomatically. Nevertheless, he accentuated that treaties still reveal significant weaknesses since it is countries themselves whom, at the end spell out the applicability of the conventions on their watersheds, so is the case of Pakistan and India and the overlooked role of Kashmir over the water dispute within the region. 

 

Professor Nazir Shawl opened his intervention by affirming that, despite decades of attention, the Kashmir dispute remains one of the most persistent and heated conflicts in international relations. He further elaborated on the current situation stating that water emanating from Kashmir has been gravely misused; more than 67 dams and barrages have been constructed by India in Indian Held Kashmir for the purposes of hydro electrical power generation; this has created many problems for Kashmir and Pakistan. Prof. Shawl emphasized that Kashmiris have been deprived from their own resources by the limitations of the Indus Water Treaty and the desired flow to Pakistan is also threatened. He went on saying that Jammu & Kashmir has been stuck in a development rut that is largely responsible for the lack of stability and security that could play a critical role in the conflict resolution.

Professor Ashok Swain highlighted that despite the lack of trust between Pakistan and India there has been an agreement for more than 52 years. On the other hand, the treaty is 53 years old and it no longer takes the current reality into account. He then stressed on the need to move forward onto a treaty that takes into consideration the Kashmiri needs and demands. He elaborated on how the damns can and are used for geo-strategic purposes but reminded that they also should be used to benefit the region as a whole. He concluded that both India and Pakistan should come forward to renegotiate the Indus Water Treaty Agreement into a comprehensive and integrated form of basin management and establish a joint and independent river basin organisation, the benefit sharing of it will not be limited only to water resources; it might have other peace-enhancing effects and significantly contribute to the regional security and development. It is high time now to move to the next stage in Indus river cooperation.

Dr. Undala Alam emphasised that the Indus Treaty is the only one that has had the World Bank as signatory and that despite it being improbable it still is a remarkable treaty. She particularized that the critical thing about water lies on the fact that it flows; hence water differentiates itself from gold, oil or coal because it cannot be contained, one can only have the illusion of containing it, it will always move on. She brought up the intergovernmental cooperation on the Senegal Basin as an example of outstanding cooperation.

Jean Lambert MEP referred to the 2007 European Parliament resolution on Kashmir and explained how it made reference to the Indus Water Treaty; it urged the Governments of India and Pakistan to resolve the crucial river issues affecting the use of the rivers flowing through Kashmir as swiftly as possible. It also talked about water security and sustainable energy supply for the stability and growth of the region, and to consult the Kashmiri views over the river issues. She also addressed the issue from an ecological point of view stressing the effect pollution and climate change is having on the water conflict in South Asia. She also underlined the economic impact water and its quality has in cotton production, a huge sector in the region’s economy.

Helmut Scholz MEP began by giving the water dispute between Germany and the Czech Republic as an example of how cooperation on water is needed all around the globe. He highlighted that water is also highly important for transport and farming activities. As a member of the Committee on International Trade he remarked that, in relation to water,  trade can offer a good opportunity to even economic differences between neighboring countries.

The roundtable discussed in its second part the Palestinian-Israeli water dispute and the human right to water and sanitation in the region. On behalf of the Palestinian Minister of Water, Mr. Almotaz Abadi gave the Palestinian official stand on water issues. He stated that in the occupied State of Palestine a severe water shortages and acute water quality problems continue to negatively affect the lives and livelihoods of more than 4.2 million of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He declared that without access to and control over their rightful share of the trans-boundary freshwater resources located in the occupied West Bank, and without an end to Israel’s punitive land, air and sea blockade over the Gaza Strip, Palestinians have little hope of improving their current economic situation and no hope of building a sovereign and viable Palestinian state.

Professor Haim Gvirtzman alleged that water supply under Jordanian Control over Palestine was far less developed than during Israel control. He elaborated on Israeli water control by declaring that 98% of Palestinian villages and towns are now connected to water supply provided by Israel’s water companies, therefore, water supply has tripled in comparison to Jordanian ruling. 

Ms. Josephine Barbas gave a different approach to the discussion by addressing the topic under the terms of international law. She explained how the Oslo Accords of 1994 did not have the expected outcome since there was not any improvement of Palestinians access to water.  She stated that 60% of the West Bank -thus the access to seawater- is controlled by Israel. She appealed that Palestinians have no access to their rightful water resources. She further addressed the water dispute and Israel’s water control by analyzing it under 3 legal frameworks: the International Humanitarian Law, the International Human Rights Law and the International Water Law.

Dr. Nidal Salim described with figures how difficult it is to the Palestinians to access water and how the lack of accessibility is affecting their health. He stated that destruction of water cisterns, wells and other essential water infrastructure, access to water has become a tool of disposition used by Israel to target some of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities in the occupied Palestinian state resulting in forced displacement and that the current conflict is not between two equals but between one with all the power and another one who is not powerful and hence is being invaded.  

Concluding the roundtable, Mr. Frank Schwalba-Hoth stated that development is one of the priorities of the EU over the last decades and indicates it clearly: in the fifties "water policy" was a non-issue, now it has become - in its different facettes - one of the key concerns of the EU. We are confronted with armed conflicts as a consequence of water shortage and lack of respectful cross-border water arrangements; with a decrease of food production through depletion of aquafers; with health problems through water pollution; with social injustice through water privatisation. What is needed is more regional cross-border water manangement and a push towards a new generation of desalinisation technology through decentralised units for local residents. He declared that the EU has to accept its leadership role in a sustainable water policy worldwide.

The roundtable panelists presented various recommendations which will be compiled in due course of time.

 
Published in Latest News

Palestinian cartoonist and writer Mohammed Sabaana is being held as an administrative detainee, which allows the Israeli authorities to detain him indefinitely without charge and denies him any real opportunity to challenge the detention order. The legal basis for Israel's use of Administrative Detention is the British Mandate 1945 Law on Authority in States of Emergency' as amended in 1979.

 

International Council for Human Rights - Palestine Project, is profoundly dismayed by the arrest of Mohammed Sabaana who was detained by Israeli security forces at 10am on Saturday, 16 February from Allenby Crossing while he was returning to the occupied West Bank from Jordan.

 

The Israeli security forces refuse to disclose any details on Mohammed Sabaana's whereabouts and further deny to grant access to his lawyer or his family members. He is also at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment.

 

Mohammed Sabaana is a famous Palestinian political cartoonist in the Arab world, who has been active recently in criticising the Israeli policies on administrative detentions. His work is focusing on addressing and supporting the Palestinian hunger striker detainees in the Israeli prisons. Sabaana has received many awards at national and international festivals for his publications. 

 

The legal basis for Israel's use of Administrative Detention is the British Mandate 1945 Law on Authority in States of Emergency' as amended in 1979. Administrative detention is a detention without charge for renewable terms. Orders are based on evidence withheld from the detainees and their lawyers. A mass hunger strike of around 2,000 Palestinian prisoners and detainees protesting against poor prison conditions, solitary confinements, denial of family visits and detention without charge ended on 14 May 2012 following an Egyptian-brokered deal with the Israeli authorities. Despite media reports suggesting that Israel had agreed not to renew administrative detention orders unless significant new intelligence information was presented, the Israeli authorities, nevertheless, have continued renewing such orders and issuing new ones. As of 30 December 2012, there are 178 administrative detainees. Some of the administrative detainees have been released having agreed to leave to leave the Occupied Palestinian Territories and go into exile abroad. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from forcibly transferring or deporting people from an occupied territory.

 

Please write immediately in English, Hebrew or your own language:

 

  • Calling on the Israeli authorities to release Mohammed Sabaana and all other Palestinian administrative detainees immediately, unless they are properly charged with internationally recognizable criminal offences and brought to trial in full conformity with international fair trial standards;
  • Calling on them to ensure that Mohammed Sabaana and all hunger strikers receive all the specialist medical attention they require, which is only available in a civilian hospital, ensuring regular access to doctors of their choice, and  not subjected to shackling or other cruel or inhuman treatment;
  • Urging them to end the use of administrative detention and permit all detainees family visits.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS TO:

 

Avi Mizrahi

 

West Bank Commander of the IDF – GOC Central Command

 

Military Post 01149Battalion 877

 

Israel Defense Forces, Israel

 

Fax: +972 2 530 5741

 

 

 

Menahem Mazuz

 

Israeli Attorney General

 

29 Salah al-Din Street

 

Jerusalem

 

Fax: +972 2 530 5741 / 530 5724

 

 

 

Ban Ki-moon

 

Secretary General

 

United Nations

 

New York, 10017, USA

 

Fax: +1 212 963 4879

 

 

 

Navanethem Pillay

 

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

 

Palais Wilson , 52 rue des Pâquis 

 

CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

 

Fax: +41 22 917 90 00

 

 

 

Christof Heyns

 

Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (OHCHR) 

 

Palais des Nations 

 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

 

Fax: +41 22 917 90 00

 

  

 

Bastiaan Belder MEP

 

Chair, Delegation for relations with Israel 

 

Parlement européen

 

Bât. Altiero Spinelli

 

04F266, rue Wiertz 60

 

B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium

 

Fax: +32(0)2 28 49270

 

 

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.  THE NAME OF ICHR CAN BE MENTIONED; HOWEVER LETTERS WRITTEN IN  A PRIVATE AND PERSONAL CAPACITY MAY BE MORE EFFECTIVE.  PLEASE STRESS THAT YOUR CONCERN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IS NOT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED BUT THAT IT IS BASED THE RIGHTS ENSHRINED IN THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS WHICH GRANTS THE RIGHTS TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND SECURITY, DISALLOWING TORTURE AND ARBITRARY DETENTION AND THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND PEACEFUL ASSOCIATION.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Urgent Actions
Close Panel

Login

You may use your ICHR staff login or ICHR website registered user login to access.

Welcome to ICHR website - registered user interface

follow us