Palestinian Civil Society’s Urgent Letter to the UN, signed by the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) and Palestinian unions, movements and social and political organizations


Palestinian Civil Society calls on the UNGA to take immediate and effective action to end Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians

Esteemed excellencies,

Representatives of UN member states, 

It has been 75 years since the United Nations launched its first Special Session on the Question of Palestine. Since then, Palestinians have been subjected to a system of forcible displacement, military occupation, and apartheid. In fact, the Indigenous people of Palestine has been resisting settler-colonialism for over a century. The UN has a legal and ethical obligation to end this multifaceted system of oppression that it helped create.

Despite adopting tens of resolutions over this period condemning Israel’s grave violations of our inalienable rights as stipulated in international law, the United Nations has failed to implement these resolutions or to hold Israel accountable for perpetrating these violations. This has entrenched Israel’s impunity and derailed efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and sustainable peace in Palestine and the region. Last year, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon criticized the UN’s failed approach to the question of Palestine, acknowledging that Israel has created a situation that “arguably constitutes apartheid.”

Urgent international action is long overdue. In 2020, Palestinian civil society demanded that “all States and international organizations respect their legal obligations to cooperate to end Israel’s illegal occupation, annexation and apartheid.” It specifically called on the international community to revive UN mechanisms for investigating Israeli apartheid; prosecuting individuals and corporate actors involved in Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity; banning arms trade and military-security cooperation with apartheid; and prohibiting trade with its illegal settlement enterprise.

Today, there is a growing consensus among human rights organizations and experts worldwide that Israel is indeed perpetrating the crime against humanity of apartheid. This includes Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and UN experts. Israel’s leading human rights organization B’Tselem reached a similar conclusion in a report titled, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid.”

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Palestinian Territories Occupied in 1967 (UN SR OPT) recently reported to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that had the UN Security Council (UNSC) “truly acted on its resolutions 40 or 30 years ago, we would not be talking about apartheid today.”

To date, 12 states , from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe, have addressed or otherwise condemned Israel’s apartheid at the UNHRC and called for effective measures to dismantle it (1). In a recent statement South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, said: “South Africa’s view is that strong action to support Palestine must be taken by the UN and a committee on apartheid should be established under the auspices of the UN General Assembly to verify [it] meets the criteria.”

Dismantling Israel’s system of apartheid against Palestinians must be central to the UN’s commitment to end racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance worldwide. As the South African majority had done in the past, today, Palestinians stand united in urgently calling on every State member of the UN during this UNGA 77 to:

  • Condemn Israel’s apartheid system against Palestinians and call on the UNGA to adopt immediate and effective measures to dismantle it.
  • Propose or support a resolution reactivating the UNGA mechanisms against apartheid, including the revival of the Special Committee Against Apartheid, with a mandate towards eradicating apartheid anywhere it exists around the world beginning with Israel’s apartheid against the Palestinian people.
  • Sponsor and/or contribute to a debate in UNGA committees, particularly the 3rd committee on human rights, on Israel’s apartheid system and the revival of UN mechanisms to investigate and ultimately dismantle it. 

For more information on the global, Palestinian-led anti-apartheid work see: 

Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC)

Al-Haq – Law in the Service of Mankind

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)

Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP)

Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC)

Aldameer Association for Human Rights

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (RCHRS)

Hurryyat – Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights

The Independent Commission for Human Rights

Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)

Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine

Gen. Union of Palestinian Workers

Palestinian Union of Postal, IT and Telecommunication workers

Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS)

Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)

Palestinian Nat’l Institute for NGOs

Federation of Indep. Trade Unions

Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition

Palestinian Bar Association

Palestinian Medical Association

Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Initiative (OPGAI)

Gen. Union of Palestinian Teachers

Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)

Gen. Union of Palestinian Women

Gen. Union of Palestinian Writers

Union of Palestinian Farmers

Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW)

Pal. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC)

The Palestinian federation of New Unions

Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem 

Coalition for Jerusalem

Nat’l Committee to Commemorate the Nakba

Union of Public Employees in Palestine-Civil Sector

Gen. Union of Palestinian Peasants

Union of Pal. Charitable Organizations

Union of Professional Associations

Women Campaign to Boycott Israeli Products 

Palestinian Economic Monitor

Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps

Agricultural Cooperatives Union

Nat’l Committee for Grassroots Resistance

(1) Countries that addressed Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians at the Human Rights Council between 2020 – 2022 include: Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, Namibia, Venezuela, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Luxemburg, Qatar, and Mauritania. Groups including the Organization of Islamic Countries and the group of Arab States have also made similar statements.