UN Human Right Volker Türk informal statement to States on his trip to the Middle East
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Edited News | OHCHR , UNOG

UN Human Rights chief Volker Türk informal statement to States on his trip to the Middle East

Türk was briefing States on his missions to Egypt and Jordan last week, where he met, among others, officials, and representatives of Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian and Israeli civil society.

 

Rarely have I heard such disturbing testimony about the catastrophic harm that ordinary people have endured, and which continues to mount. And never in my career of working in many crisis situations around the world have I met such an outpouring of fear, anger and despair,” Türk told diplomats at the briefing at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva.

 

The people of Gaza, who for years have been profoundly impoverished behind barbed wire fences, are enduring bombardment by the Israeli Security Forces of an intensity rarely experienced in this century,” he said.

 

The UN Human Rights Chief noted that one in every 57 people living in the Gaza Strip has been killed or injured in the past five weeks, according to  figures from the Gaza Ministry of Health. Over 11,100 have been killed, more than 4,600 of them children. An entire population is being deeply traumatised, he said.

 

In Israel, according to the authorities, 1,200 people, including many children, were killed in horrific attacks by Hamas and other armed groups on 7 and 8 October. 239 people, including children, were captured and taken to Gaza. And the nation has been thrown into shock.

 

It is apparent that on both sides, some view the killing of civilians as either acceptable collateral damage, or a deliberate and useful weapon of war. This is a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe. It represents a breakdown of the most basic respect for humane values. The killing of so many civilians cannot be dismissed as collateral damage. Not in a kibbutz. Not in a refugee camp. And not in a hospital,” Türk warned.

 

The UN Human Rights Chief stressed that no one is above the law, and that international humanitarian law is clear.  Extremely serious allegations of multiple and profound breaches of international humanitarian law, whoever commits them, demand rigorous investigation and full accountability. And it must be clear that breaches of international humanitarian law – even war crimes – committed by one party do not, ever, absolve the other from compliance with the clear principles of the law of war.

 

Türk also voiced his deep concern about the intensification of violence and severe discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

He also shared, he said, the deep sense of foreboding about the risk of spill over into the wider Middle East region.  

 

 

Let me be clear. The outbreak of conflict is always a failure: A failure to find a peaceful solution. A failure of prevention. A failure to uphold human rights. I feel this deeply. The failure, in this case, has been long-standing, and many parties could count their part of responsibility in it.  But every conflict that has been enduringly resolved, has achieved that resolution through the advancement of justice, accountability and human rights,” he said.

           

Today, among both Israelis and Palestinians, entirely separate narratives are building up, parallel to each other and with no connection between them. Profound historical traumas have been revived. I plead for everyone to recognise and acknowledge this depth of pain, and the reality of the humanity and the suffering of the other. This is perhaps my most important recommendation: it is essential that all parties acknowledge that all human lives have equal value,” said Türk.

 

My Office is not partisan. But yes: I am taking sides. I am on the side of every civilian, Palestinian or Israeli, who is harmed, or who lives in fear. Every one of them has exactly the same rights to live and thrive in peace and in freedom. That is the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said.

     

There must be an end to grave human rights violations, notably against children.  All forms of collective punishment must come to an end. All hostages must be released. International humanitarian and human rights law must be immediately and fully respected, including the principles of necessity, distinction, precaution and proportionality,” the High Commissioner said.

 

There must be a ceasefire on humanitarian and human rights grounds, and an end to the fighting – not only to deliver urgently needed food and water, but to create the space for a path out of this horror,” Türk stressed.

 

Rapid and unimpeded humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza, including fuel, and at the scale required, is urgently needed, and must be facilitated. He also urged the Israeli authorities to take immediate measures to ensure that the security forces comply with their obligations as an occupying power to protect Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including from violence by settlers. Continued, widespread impunity for such violations must stop, he said.

 

Finally, it is clear that the Israeli occupation must end. It is essential to ensure the rights of Palestinians to self-determination and to their own State. And it is essential to acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist,” Türk said.

 

The UN Human Rights Office would continue to do its utmost to assist all parties to step back from the precipice to which extremism and violence have led, he concluded.

 

 

ENDS

 

For more information and media requests, please contact: 

 

In Geneva

Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / ravina.shamdasani@un.org or Liz Throssell + 41 22 917 9296 / elizabeth.throssell@un.org  Jeremy Laurence +  +41 22 917 9383 / jeremy.laurence@un.org or Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 marta.hurtadogomez@un.org

 

In Nairobi

Seif Magango - +254 788 343 897 / seif.magango@un.org

 

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STORY:  UN Human Rights chief informal briefing to States on his visit to the Middle East

TRT: 04:15

SOURCE:OHCHR
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: English/NATS
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9 
DATELINE:  16 November 2023 Geneva, Switzerland 

 

  1. Exterior: Palais des Nations
  2. Soundbite (English)—Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “Rarely have I heard such disturbing testimony about the catastrophic harm that ordinary people have endured, and which continues to mount. And never in my career of working in many crisis situations around the world have I met such an outpouring of fear, anger and despair.”
  3. Cut aways: Room 17
  4. Soundbite (English)—Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “The people of Gaza, who for years have been profoundly impoverished behind barbed wire fences, are enduring bombardment by the Israeli Security Forces of an intensity rarely experienced in this century.”
  5. Cut aways: Room 17
  6. Soundbite (English)—Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “It is apparent that on both sides, some view the killing of civilians as either acceptable collateral damage, or a deliberate and useful weapon of war. This is a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe. It represents a breakdown of the most basic respect for humane values. The killing of so many civilians cannot be dismissed as collateral damage. Not in a kibbutz. Not in a refugee camp. And not in a hospital.”
  7. Cut aways: Room 17
  8. Soundbite (English)—Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “Let me be clear. The outbreak of conflict is always a failure: A failure to find a peaceful solution. A failure of prevention. A failure to uphold human rights. I feel this deeply. The failure, in this case, has been long-standing, and many parties could count their part of responsibility in it. But every conflict that has been enduringly resolved, has achieved that resolution through the advancement of justice, accountability and human rights.
  9. Cut aways: Room 17
  10. Soundbite (English)—Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “Today, among both Israelis and Palestinians, entirely separate narratives are building up, parallel to each other and with no connection between them. Profound historical traumas have been revived. I plead for everyone to recognise and acknowledge this depth of pain, and the reality of the humanity and the suffering of the other. This is perhaps my most important recommendation: it is essential that all parties acknowledge that all human lives have equal value.”
  11. Cut aways: Room 17
  12. Soundbite (English)—Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “My Office is not partisan. But yes: I am taking sides. I am on the side of every civilian, Palestinian or Israeli, who is harmed, or who lives in fear. Every one of them has exactly the same rights to live and thrive in peace and in freedom. That is the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
  13. Cut aways: Room 17
  14. Soundbite (English)—Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “There must be an end to grave human rights violations, notably against children. All forms of collective punishment must come to an end. All hostages must be released. International humanitarian and human rights law must be immediately and fully respected, including the principles of necessity, distinction, precaution and proportionality,” the High Commissioner said.
  15. Cut aways: Room 17
  16. Soundbite (English)—Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “There must be a ceasefire on humanitarian and human rights grounds, and an end to the fighting – not only to deliver urgently needed food and water, but to create the space for a path out of this horror.”
  17. Cut aways: Room 17
  18. Soundbite (English)—Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “Finally, it is clear that the Israeli occupation must end. It is essential to ensure the rights of Palestinians to self-determination and to their own State. And it is essential to acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist.

 

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