While Non- government organizations (NGO’s) have had a large impact on bringing the issues of human rights to the center stage, as shown by William Korey in the article “A Curious Grapevine”, The NGO’s, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and media, have also failed the civilians the declaration was supposed to protect.
Korey claims that UDHR was established to “prevent future horrors” and that it succeeded beyond what was expected of it. He also said that NGO’s were the main reason that the South African apartheid ended. Yet Korey defines success as attaining media attention, winning the Noble Peace Prize, juridical focus and law formulation. With the skewered definition of success the NGO’s have turned to naming and shaming, where they publically criticize the state or institution and then get them to change by shaming them. Yet NGO’s have failed to shame and make an impact on the Palestinian- Israeli crisis.
An issue that has been overlooked by the world in the past is the Palestinian- Israeli conflict. In 1917, with the Balfour Declaration the state of Palestine became the home for the Jewish people.
In 2013, the UN adopted 21 resolutions against Israel.
“Recalling the conclusion of the Court…that the construction of the wall by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, along with measures previously taken, severely impedes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination…” – United Nations Resolution 2013
There were also violations because of Israel’s exploitation of the Palestinians, the concern for Palestinians socioeconomic conditions and there lack of basic rights, this led to an investigation of Israel’s disregard of Palestinian human rights, which was then thought to be unethical because of Israel barring witnesses from travel. While these violations were recorded by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, no impact was made. This can be seen through how Israel continues to build settlements even though international courts have deemed them illegal. When the Oslo Accord was signed in 1993 there were 110,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, in 2013 the numbers of settlements in the West Bank alone were 350,000.
According to Human Rights Watch, Israel has broken numerous declarations set forth by the UDHR. These include destroying homes and property under discriminatory practices, restriction of movement in Gaza, restriction on water, electricity, food, and education, and basic rights to life, liberty, and security. As well as unlawfully detaining minors and adults for long periods of time without giving reason or taking the detainees to court.
While the UN and Human Rights Watch publically condoned these events the organizations were unable to make more of an effect then bring it to the attention of others. Even though the UDHR was meant to be legally binding for countries that agreed and signed the declaration, it has remained emancipatory in inspiring action to be taken towards the 102 resolutions that were brought up by the UN against Israel from 1972- 2011. This is in large part because the United States has vetoed various resolutions against Israel but even with the resolutions that were passed Israel has not seized to deprive the Palestinian people of basic human rights. Even with NGO’s participating in the conflict there has been a disconnection between what NGO’s are claiming needs to be changed and in turn what Israel actually changes. This leads to questioning the effect of NGO’s, especially with Korey’s definition of what it means for a NGO to be successful.
Afsc.org, (2014). Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory | American Friends Service Committee. [online] Available at: https://www.afsc.org/resource/israel%E2%80%99s-settlement-policy-occupied-palestinian-territory [Accessed 7 Jul. 2014].
Blog.unwatch.org, (2014). 2013 at the UN: 21 resolutions against Israel, 4 on rest of the world. [online] Available at: http://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2013/11/25/this-years-22-unga-resolutions-against-israel-4-on-rest-of-world/ [Accessed 7 Jul. 2014].
org, (2014). Israel/Palestine. [online] Available at: http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/israel-palestine [Accessed 7 Jul. 2014].
From a paper submitted to a Stanford course.