Meeting of the Bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) in Gaza
By Carlos Orjuela
Members of the Haldane Society along with lawyers from around the world, including France, Italy, US, South Africa, Vietnam, Philippines, Haiti, Costa Rica and Spain, all participated in the latest meeting of the Bureau of the IADL. This took place in Gaza, from 24-28 September 2012, at the invitation of Raji Sourani, a long-standing Bureau member, and Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza. Carlos Orjuela, a member of the Executive Committee, represented the Haldane Society. The IADL holds a Bureau meeting twice a year, and a Congress every four years. Previous Congresses took place in Capetown, Havana, and Hanoi.
The IADL is a non-governmental organization of progressive lawyers from all over the world with consultative status in the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It was founded on 24 October 1946 in Paris by a gathering of lawyers who had survived the war against fascism and participated in the Nuremberg Trials. Rene Cassin, a drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, became the first IADL President. Haldane was a founder member.
The IADL Bureau came to Gaza to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and their cause and to lift the voices of its members in affirming the basic rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and an end to the illegal occupation and closure of the Gaza Strip.
The IADL met with the Palestinian Bar Association, the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), human rights organizations, women’s rights organizations, Palestinian political factions, and government officials. The Bureau visited the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice. Bureau members held discussions with representatives of all political parties and affected individuals. Through these events and meetings, the IADL was able to gain first-hand information on the prevailing situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip.
What rapidly became clear is that the coming year will see an alarming deterioration in the lives of the people of Gaza and the emergence of a humanitarian crisis in the area. It was also obvious that despite the occupation being the root and direct cause of this tragedy, the Israeli army and authorities continue to act with almost complete impunity.
A conference entitled 'Setting the Agenda: Accountability for International Law Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory' was held on 27 September with various members of Palestinian civil society. Topics included accountability, the closure of Gaza and the plight of political prisoners in Israel.
On the last day of the delegation the group published the "Gaza Declaration of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers" (see http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8843:gaza-declaration-from-the-international-association-of-democratic-lawyers-&catid=145:in-focus)
Main points of the Declaration are:
- Affirmation of the Right to Self-determination, and the demand for an End to the Occupation
- The Demand to End Impunity for Israel's Crimes
- Condemnation of Human Rights Violations and Collective Punishment
- Identification of Complicity of the International Community in Israeli War Crimes
The Declaration concludes:
IADL confirms and declares that we shall work side by side with the Palestinian people in their pursuit to end the illegal occupation and realized their right to self-determination by:
- Setting up and assisting in the coordination of an international network of jurists who stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and pledge to take up their cause all over the world, using all national and international legal instruments available to challenge Israeli impunity, end the illegal occupation, closure and consequent human rights violations;
- To assist all our member organizations around the world to engage in promoting an economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel, as part of the international campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.
For more information regarding the IADL please visit http://www.iadllaw.org/