HRC Side-event: The responsibility to protect: origins and implementation

BADIL, in cooperation with the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP) organized a side event to the 17th Human Rights Council session on the 3rd of June 2011. The event was a huge success with more than 60 guests in attendence.

The event's focus/theme was the principle of the “responsibility to protect”, a concept which was adopted at a summit of the United Nations in September 2005. The principle consists of three pillars, name that:
- Each State is responsible for protecting its own citizens from war crimes, ethnic cleansing, genocide and other international crimes.
- Assistance should be given by States in order to support others in applying this principle.
- States have the responsibility to protect the citizens of a State who has failed to do so.

However the question remains as to why has the international community not applied this principle, in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention and to the SC Resolution 1674, in the case of the Palestinians who have been forced to live under Israeli occupation for decades? For instance, this could have been the case during the Israeli military attack on Gaza in 2008-2009 where 1,350 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured.

According to Rania Madi, BADIL's consultant in Geneva, such behavior proves the double standards applied by the UN, and in particular by its SC, when dealing with the topic of protection. Today, military actions are coordinated to “protect” Libyan civilians, as the Palestinians continue to suffer gross human rights violations  as a result of Israel's apartheid regime while the international community does nothing to fulfill its obligations.