Recordings now available below
Welcome – Andrew Whitley, Balfour Project Chair & Introduction to Conference—Baroness Sayeeda Warsi
Keynote Speech followed by Q&A—Francesca Albanese, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories
Realities on the Ground
Separate & Unequal—Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch
Access to Health—Melanie Ward, Medical Aid for Palestinians
Children’s Rights & Child Prisoners—Miranda Cleland, Defense for Children International—Palestine
Freedom of Movement, Expression and Assembly—Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq
Parliamentary Panel chaired by Sir Vincent Fean, Balfour Project Vice-Chair, with Flick Drummond (Conservatives), Bambos Charalambous (Labour), Dr Philippa Whitford (Scottish National Party)
Closing Statement—Andrew Whitley
Our annual conference on Wednesday 17th May 2023 was entitled Human Rights in Palestine: Responsibility and Accountability. This year marks significant 75 year anniversaries for both Palestinians and Israelis; anniversaries set against a background of an increasingly turbulent political situation, escalating violence and continuing denial of Palestinian human rights. The right to national self-determination is crucial, and we continue to call for UK recognition of Palestine now, but as important to the lives of Palestinians under occupation is the way in which their human rights continue to be eroded by the actions of the occupying power; actions purporting to be security driven, but increasingly appearing to be designed to weaken Palestinian society, culture and cohesion and to isolate them from international contacts and support. Respect for Palestinians’ human rights must not be postponed until their national rights are recognised. Our focus was on highlighting international law and advocating equality now, setting to one side the form of a future political agreement (if any).
The conference was opened by Baroness Warsi. Our keynote speaker, Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories set out the legal framework under International Law for the responsibilities of Israel as the Occupying Power and those of the International Community including Britain, to uphold Palestinian rights. The focus then shifted to a number of voices (including Palestinians) telling the truth about the dire situation today in the OPT and discussing what the UK and our international partners should do to advance equal rights and the rule of law. Finally, a panel of Parliamentarians responded to the issues raised in the context of likely current and future political situation in the UK.
The conference brought together a range of distinguished speakers, including those with direct experience of day-to day reality in Palestine. The aim was to analyse the current situation on the ground including the legal framework of the Occupation, Britain’s role both historically and now, and what actions we and the international community can and should take, individually and collectively, to advance equality between Palestinians and Israelis and to ensure responsibility is identified and accountability required for continuing abuses of fundamental human rights.
The conference was “hybrid” – face to face at Church House, Westminster, and online.