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‏Minister Dr. Malki delivers the State of Palestine’s speech at the high-level event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Geneva
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‏Minister Dr. Malki delivers the State of Palestine’s speech at the high-level event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Geneva

Round-table Intervention

We’re here today to mark 75 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to look 25 years ahead, and to discuss recommendations on promoting peace through a human rights lens. There are many dark ironies in our discussions today, not the least of which is that I represent a people whose fundamental rights to life, dignity, and self-determination among many others have been denied for 75 years.  
As we speak, at least 1 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, half of them children, are starving – not because of a natural disaster or lack of generous assistance waiting at the border. No, they’re starving because of Israel’s deliberate use of starvation as a weapon of war against the people it occupied. Rather than condemning this atrocious crime, states have accommodated it and accepted Israel’s criminal terms for how much food, water, fuel, and medicine can enter Gaza and to whom this essential aid can be supplied. Rather than insisting on respecting the Palestinian people’s basic right to eat and drink water, we are living through this dystopian reality that excludes Palestinians from the most basic rights afforded to all human beings. 
I understand the importance and value of this discussion in theory, but it is difficult for me as a Palestinian – as a human – to comprehend it during this dark hour of utter international failure towards the most basic rights of an entire people- my people. Events have unfortunately made such a discussion moot. Because if human rights are trampled on so pervasively, so audaciously, so publicly, and so arrogantly today, and if such objectionable behavior is excused, supported, and protected – how can we sit here, in all seriousness and except that the international system can survive 25 years down the line? The answer is, it simply cannot. 
When human rights are not universal, this declaration and all the progress we thought we achieved globally over the decades, become irrelevant and unconvincing. When schools, markets, hospitals, and open fields turn into mass graves in Gaza – when more than 8 thousand children are slaughtered and thousands more are injured and made orphans – and when one single state can torpedo the will of the world to stop these massacres, how can we dare say that human rights are universal? 
Rather than pontificating about our rules-based international system and the universal values of human rights, we must have the courage to say that our system is failing and failing miserably. This system is broken and we have a historic responsibility to fix it or else resign to being complicit in its catastrophic demise and humanity devolving into a new normal of brutality, unchecked powers, and savagery. We must admit that our system has tolerated the selective application of the responsibility to respect human rights and international humanitarian law for far too long and at the cost of far too many innocent lives. 
The structure of the system that allows a few states to leverage their enormous power over humanity must change - because it has also allowed for far too long the exceptional treatment of rogue states like Israel as states above international law and beyond the reach of accountability. This is intolerable and unacceptable because it undermines the values, we as states uphold and the accomplishments each of us achieves at the national level. The universality of human rights must mean that our national and foreign policies align – that we treat all human life with respect and dignity regardless of color, nationality, gender, or creed. Period. 
Looking forward, we must commit to the principle that human rights cannot be a privilege of a select group, as they are today. We must do that in action, not hollow statements and carefully crafted eloquence that entrench injustices and produce no change. 
For us to look hungry, terrified, and displaced Palestinian children in Gaza in the eye, we have to commit to doing things differently; to promise them a life where there is no veto on his or her right to live and to enjoy freedom, safety, and dignity; to pledge that they would never again be dehumanized and called “human animals” or excluded from humanity so that they could be killed, maimed, and orphaned in their thousands as is happening today. And we must make good on that promise today.     
After 75 years of the Palestinian Nakba and as Israel commits another Nakba before our eyes, the need for global solidarity and action has never been greater. The Palestinian people must enjoy their fundamental rights to life, justice, dignity, and self-determination. They must be freed from the monstrosities committed against them to maintain an illegal regime of colonial control, domination, and persecution by way of apartheid. This abomination must end.
So what do we do? How do we break free from this dark hour of agony and immeasurable suffering? The answer is simple: We listen to the roaring cries for peace and human rights that have filled the streets of cities worldwide. We heed their calls that Never Again means Never Again for everybody. We not only call for a ceasefire – we actively work to achieve it. We not only call for respect for human rights and international law – we sanction Israel for violating these international obligations without hesitation. In short, we reject and end Israeli exceptionalism.    
As a proud State Party to seven UN human rights treaties and an additional seven protocols, Palestine remains committed to these international standards. We believe they are not mere words and we know that we are not alone in that. But as a family of nations, we must do better, much better to uphold the universality of these values and standards so that they survive the indignities and double standards we are witnessing now in Gaza.

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