For the first time, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (“Committee”) has adopted recommendations in its periodic review of Israel that specifically address human rights violations in the occupied Syrian Golan. Al-Marsad – Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights (“Al-Marsad”) welcomes the Committee’s inclusion of issues that impact the occupied Golan in its Concluding Observations on Israel.
Al-Marsad, in coalition with Al-Haq and Cornell Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, had submitted a joint parallel report to the Committee in advance of its final review of Israel that discussed many of the issues taken up by the Committee.
After never meaningfully addressing Israel’s human rights violations in the occupied Golan in its past reviews, the Committee reprimanded Israel on three different issues. First, the Committee voiced concern for Israel’s issuing of licenses to private companies for oil and gas extraction and renewable energy projects in occupied territories without consulting indigenous and local communities. The Committee highlighted that while Israel seeks to unlawfully create energy resource industries within the territories it occupies, it blocks native populations in these territories from creating and developing their own projects using the same resources.
The Committee also drew attention to the fact that Israel has not provided information on the measures it has taken to ensure that companies operating in occupied territories do not violate the human rights of indigenous and local communities.
In response to these observations, the Committee called on Israel to immediately stop issuing licenses for natural resource exploitation in occupied territories and to regulate the activities of companies operating in occupied territories to ensure their compliance with human rights standards.
Second, the Committee denounced the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied Golan, as well as in the other territories Israel occupies, and called on Israel to immediately halt and reverse “all settlement policies and developments.”
Lastly, the Committee took issue with Israel’s failure to ensure that basic labor rights are understood and upheld in the occupied Golan, noting the lack of trade unions in the region. The Committee called on Israel to ensure that complaint mechanisms for labor rights violations be put in place in the occupied Golan and to raise awareness for workers’ rights within the region’s workforce.
Al-Marsad works exhaustively on all the issues the Committee addressed in its review and is encouraged that the Committee is finally tackling human rights violations in the occupied Golan. Al-Marsad hopes that the Committee will continue to follow up on the recommendations it has made to Israel and that in the future it will continue to address human rights violations in the occupied Golan.