A Human Rights Review on the EU and Israel Relating Commitments to Actions
The present report is the second in a series meant to assess the European Union’s (EU) relations to third countries in the Barcelona process in terms of human rights. The report is published by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), a network of more than 80 Arab, European, Israeli and Turkish human rights organisations, institutions, and individuals committed to universal human rights and based in more than 20 countries1 of the Euro-Mediterranean region.
The EMHRN was established in 1997 as a civil society response to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Its main objectives are to:
* Support and publicise in the Euro-Mediterranean and Arab regions the universal human rights principles as outlined in the international human rights instruments and the Barcelona Declaration.
* Strengthen, assist, and co-ordinate the efforts of its members to monitor States’ compliance with the principles of the Barcelona Declaration in the fields of human rights and humanitarian concerns.
* Support the development of democratic institutions, promote the Rule of Law, Human Rights, Gender Equality and Human Rights Education, and to strengthen Civil Society in the Euro-Mediterranean region and beyond.
The EMHRN considers that human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. They are closely linked with the respect for democratic principles and concern the whole of the Euro-Mediterranean and Middle East region. The EMHRN therefore promotes networking and cooperation between human rights NGOs and activists as well as the wider civil society in the whole region.
The EMHRN believes that the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the EU relations to the Arab world has provided the region with instruments that when efficiently implemented may enhance promotion and protection of human rights and democratic principles as well as strengthen civil society.
In this context the EMHRN established Working Groups on several human rights issues relevant to the Barcelona process and the region, one of these being the Working Group on Palestine.
Following the recommendations of the EMHRN’s 6th General Assembly, the EMHRN Working Group on Palestine has engaged in a project that reviews the EU’s human rights obligations and commitments in relation to Israel.
The review constitutes a further development of EMHRN’s work to promote the implementation of human rights commitments in the Euro-Mediterranean
Partnership and in bi-lateral association agreements.
The project was outlined during meetings of the Working Group in the course of 2005 during which it was decided that the review should focus on the human rights situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in relation to the EU-Israel agreements. In this way it is meant to bring added value to current human rights work done in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by serving as a human rights guide to evaluate EU relations with Israel.
The human rights review may also be used proactively as a means to build capacity in understanding EU Human Rights mechanisms, sharing information, and as a means of advocacy.
Susan Rockwell and Charles Shamas of the MATTIN Group are the co-authors of the draft text. The review is based on research, case studies and interviews with European Community officials. The time frame of the review is October 2004 to October 2005.
The Working Group consists of competent and experienced human rights activists from the following organisations:
* Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Israel)
* Al-Haq (The West Bank, Palestine)
* Arab Association for Human Rights (Israel)
* B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (Israel)
* Bruno Kreisky Foundation (Austria)
* Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (Egypt)
* Swedish member of the International Commission of Jurists (Sweden)
* Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (Gaza, Palestine)
* Palestinian Human Rights Organisation (Lebanon)
* Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (Israel)
* Swedish Refugee Aid (Sweden)
The project was steered by:
* Randa Siniora, Al-Haq (the West Bank, Palestine)
* Per Stadig, International Commission of Jurists (Sweden)
* Rachel Greenspahn, B’Tselem (Israel)
* Mohammed Zeidan, Arab Association for Human Rights (Israel)
in close cooperation with EMHRN Secretariat Staff and Susan Rockwell (Mattin Group) who conducted research, case studies and interviews with European Community officials.
The project is kindly supported by DanChurch Aid (Denmark), Novib (the Netherlands), ICCO (the Netherlands), and the Church of Sweden (Sweden).