Gaza war reveals double standards in addressing human rights violations: Shoukry

Ahram Online , Tuesday 27 Feb 2024

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry on Tuesday blasted the international community's handling of the Gaza war, accusing them of applying double standards to violations of international human rights law by failing to hold Israel accountable.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry speaks at the high-level segment (HLS) of the 55th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, 27 February 2024. Photo: Egyptian Foreign Ministry


Shoukry made his remarks during his speech before the high-level segment (HLS) of the 55th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The session is taking place in the Swiss city of Geneva from 26-28 February, according to a statement by the foreign ministry. 

During his speech, Egypt's FM criticized certain "international entities for aborting ceasefire efforts in Gaza, while at the same time doing everything they can to stop the war in other regions." 

This approach, he said, gives Israel a green light to continue its violations against the Palestinian people.

Shoukry specifically condemned the inaction and muted response of certain UNHRC member states. These nations, while quick to condemn violations in other conflicts, have largely sidestepped taking meaningful action against Israel's actions in Palestine, he said. 

"Instead, they were content in the Gaza case to expect that international law and human rights would be respected without regard to whether their calls were responded to or not."

This, as Shoukry phrased it, sends a dangerous message that the lives of Palestinian children, who have been killed by tens of thousands, are worth less than others.

He noted that "these shameful positions indicate the collapse of the international human rights system and its mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council."

He pointed out that at the same time the UNHRC session is being held, the Palestinian people are suffering under the most horrific crimes in the Gaza Strip. This is in addition to the ongoing Israeli settlements, demolition of buildings, and military incursions in the occupied West Bank, he added. 

In this regard, Shoukry stressed Egypt’s strong condemnation of all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law to which the Palestinians are exposed. He also condemned Israel’s use of starvation, siege, and forced displacement tactics to liquidate the Palestinian national struggle.

He also reiterated Cairo's stance calling for an immediate ceasefire and for Israel to refrain from carrying out any military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah – the last refuge for more than 1.4 million displaced Palestinians – warning against the catastrophic consequences on the regional peace.

Regarding the worsening humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, Shoukry emphasized the necessity of implementing the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions to ensure safe, sustainable, and urgent access to humanitarian aid across the Strip, and to enable humanitarian organizations to carry out their tasks.

In particular, he referred to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), whose life-saving activities are indispensable in Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. He expressed Egypt's strong condemnation of attempts to target UNRWA and force it to suspend its work, as this would harm the Palestinian people's basic rights.

Furthermore, he reviewed Egypt's efforts since the outbreak of the crisis to ensure the sustainable flow of urgent humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, stressing that Egypt will continue its efforts to reach a ceasefire.

He also stressed that Cairo will continue to work towards ending the root causes of the conflict, as well as towards supporting the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and an independent state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

In addition, Shoukry stressed Egypt’s keenness for the UNHRC to be able to address international crises free from politicization. This politicization is evident in the increasing racist practices and incitement to hatred against immigrants and refugees, in addition to the growing phenomenon of Islamophobia and crimes of burning the Quran.

In this regard, Egypt's FM urged UNHRC members to speak out against such politicization, work to restore the spirit of consensus, and avoid imposing controversial concepts without respecting the cultural, civilizational, and religious particularities that are a source of wealth and pluralism.

In conclusion, Shoukry highlighted the progress made at the national level to enhance the human rights conditions in Egypt, stressing that the state is moving steadily towards promoting and protecting human rights in their comprehensive sense, and fulfilling its commitments towards the international community and its citizens, in implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy.

This can be achieved through initiatives aimed at enhancing rights and freedoms, intensifying training programmes, and spreading awareness of human rights, he noted.

Moreover, he pointed out Egypt's keenness to interact with regional and international mechanisms and submit its periodic reports, as well as to cooperate with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as an important tool to support countries' efforts in accordance with their priorities.

Short link: