PWWSD Participates in the 56th session of the Human Rights Council and Holds Key Meetings with Policymakers

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Geneva, 19 June 2024 – The Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development (PWWSD) attended the 56th session of the Human Rights Council and participated in a side event titled “Palestine-Israel: Commission of Inquiry Report and the Global Community’s Role in Addressing Genocide and Embracing a Rights-Based Approach.” The event featured speakers such as Chris Sidoti, UN COI Commissioner; Itay Epshtein, Senior Humanitarian Law and Policy Consultant, serving as Special Advisor to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC); Shahd Hammouri, Lecturer in Law at Kent University; Jamil Sarhan, ICHR Deputy Director for Gaza Strip; and was moderated by Anisha Patel, Member of the Governing Council at Law for Palestine. The event was organized by Law for Palestine, the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

This side event, held in conjunction with the UN CoI’s report submission to the Human Rights Council, aimed to present and discuss the findings of the UN COI report, address the role of international legal institutions and global civil society in addressing the genocide and alleviating the suffering of the civilian population, and address the role of third states in implementing the decisions and recommendations of international legal institutions.

Navi Pillay, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry, presented a report highlighting the severe humanitarian impact since October 7, 2023. The report detailed extensive violations of international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Commission concluded that Israeli military operations in Gaza involved war crimes, including the use of starvation as a method of warfare and collective punishment. The Commission called for an immediate, full, and complete ceasefire, emphasizing the need for all parties to adhere to international humanitarian and human rights laws to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. The report stressed the urgent need to halt hostilities and ensure accountability for all crimes under international law.

In conjunction with the 56th Human Rights Council Session, PWWSD held three key meetings with different international organizations, WILPF and Verein PalCH – Palestine's Children to discuss various issues and potential collaborations. The first Meeting discussed the exact needs of Palestinian organizations, suitable meeting locations, and capacity-building workshops. The discussions also covered the need for secure spaces to address burnout, strategies for self-security, and the importance of peace and liberation efforts.

The second meeting focused on the need for more efforts in international advocacy to highlight human rights violations in Palestine, besides the importance of documentation and reporting. PWWSD also discussed potential joint initiatives to amplify the voices of Palestinian women.

The third meeting highlighted the strategies and tools of collaboration for documenting and addressing human rights abuses. The discussion included potential training programs for local activists and the development of tools to engage the international community effectively.

It is encouraging to see that international legal institutions, including the ICJ and the ICC, have begun addressing the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. The ICC prosecutor has issued arrest warrants pending confirmation by the Pre-Trial Chamber, and the ICJ has issued provisional measures on multiple occasions, including those concerning the plausibility of genocide in Gaza. In May, the ICJ issued more definitive provisional measures, ordering Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.

Furthermore, various UN Human Rights Council bodies and procedures have addressed the unfolding genocide in several statements, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, published her report on the “Anatomy of Genocide” in Gaza. Finally, in 12 June 2024, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel (UN COI) issued its first report after the October war addressing the situation.


PWWSD’s participation in these events and meetings demonstrates its dedication and commitment to advocating for human rights, formulating strategic responses to current challenges, and fostering international cooperation to support Palestinian women.