2018 marked the year in which the CERD Committee received its first three inter-State communications under Art. 11 (1) CERD (an overview of the procedure is offered here). This was for good reason referred to as a historic development, given that this was the first time ever that such procedure has been used under any of the universal human rights treaties.
While the CERD Committee then issued its decisions on the jurisdiction and admissibility of two inter-State communications brought by Qatar against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates respectively in August 2019 already, it took the Committee until 12 December 2019 to also render its decision (available in three parts here) finding to have jurisdiction concerning the communication submitted by Palestine against Israel.
This decision, to which five Committee Members attached a dissenting opinion, which constitutes a highly unusual event in the practice of the Committee, deals with fundamental questions of treaty law, human rights law and the nature of the inter-State communications procedure laid down in Arts. 11 – 13 CERD.
Background of Palestine’s communication
As is well-known, Palestine was admitted to UNESCO in 2011 and since then qualifies as a member of one of the UN specialized agencies within the meaning of Arts. 17 (1) and 18 CERD, containing the so-called ‘Vienna formula’. On 2 May 2014 Palestine then deposited its instrument of accession to CERD. Acting as depositary, the Secretary-General of the UN accepted Palestine’s accession to CERD. It ought to be noted, however, that following Palestine’s accession to CERD Israel, which has been a State party to CERD since 1979, objected to this accession stating:
“The Government of Israel […] does not consider ‘Palestine’ a party to the Convention and regards the Palestinian request for accession as being without effect upon Israel’s treaty relations under the Convention. “
Notwithstanding, the CERD Committee has ever since treated Palestine as a State party of the Convention, inter alia by considering its first State report under Art. 9 CERD. Read the rest of this entry…