Of course, we are aware of the European Union’s commitment to the full and effective protection of Human Rights everywhere. After all, The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union (EU) “for over six decades [of contribution] to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.
So, when it comes to the “full and effective protection” of the Human Rights of indigenous peoples, you might wonder, how did the European Union react when, less than two years later, the people of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which is indigenous to the area, was subjected to arbitrary detention and torture – prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – collective punishment – prohibited by the Third Geneva Convention – and eventually to a downright massacre at the hands of the Israeli armed forces, a blood bath which Israel’s PR machine labelled “Operation Protective Edge”, in which war crimes were committed by Israel – such as deliberate attacks on schools where displaced residents were sheltering in Gaza – and which violated the right to life of more than 2,100 Palestinian citizens, of which “1,474 are believed to have been civilians, including 501 children and 257 women”, according to United Nations figures?
Of course, one can almost hear the objection: “Surely, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council does not consider the Human Rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to fall under the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but rather under Agenda Item 7, see Resolution S-21/1 and Report A/HRC/27/76”. And yes, that is correct: a bureaucratic vermin hiding behind paperwork couldn’t have put it better.
So let’s have a look at what happened at the United Nations when Resolution S-21/1 was discussed, along with the massacre Israel had inflicted on Gaza. Let’s see what happened at A/HRC/27, a session called by the Human Rights Council on the 22nd of September 2014.
Representatives of states from nearly two-thirds of the world took the floor and condemned those atrocities. And, to be sure, delegates from the European Union member states were present in the room, scattered here and there, but guess what? Not one of them said a word – with the notable exception of Ireland (and one wonder what sanctions are awaiting the Republic of Ireland for daring to break ranks from its masters in Brussels). Because you see, following the lead of the United States of America and – of course – Israel, the Nobel Prize winner European Union, ever obedient to any signal coming from across the pond, decided to boycott the session: evidently, the massacre of more than 500 children was not considered important enugh to get its representatives out of bed… or, one must think, they all must have had more important things to do.
So, the next time you hear a spokesperson for the EU announcing their “unwavering commitment” to an end of impunity for war crimes, or giving a passionate speech on the importance of “fulfilling, protecting and promoting Human Rights everywhere”, just remember this: on that day, the European Union chose to remain silent.
There is just one question that should be addressed to those who are ostensibly in charge: how do you think posterity and history will judge your behaviour? Because – rest assured – we won’t forget. And neither will they.