Rozana Association presents an intervention to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the report of the State of Palestine.

Rozana Association for the Development of Architectural Heritage participated in the presentation session of the Independent Commission for Human Rights “ICHR”’s parallel report on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights before the Working Group - of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations in Geneva during an internet call. This participation comes as part of the association's efforts to support and advocate for the cultural right in Palestine. A paper was prepared on the cultural reality in Palestine, and was adopted by the Independent Commission for Human Rights and its recommendations was included in their parallel report. This report is considered the first submitted by the Palestinian state on the International Convention on Social, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. A number of human rights organizations and civil society organizations submitted their parallel reports during this session.

Cultural rights in Palestine

The paper came as a comment from the association on the State of Palestine's report on cultural rights, since the state committed itself in international treaties to guarantee cultural rights in 2014. While compared to the actual reality, there are many challenges that impede the protection and activation of the cultural scene. For example, the budgets of the Ministries of Tourism, Antiquities and the Ministry of Culture does not exceed 0.1% and 0.3% of the total national budget annually, respectively. Although the Palestinian Basic Law guarantees the right to participate in cultural life, and some laws in force directly address cultural rights, such as Law No. (11) of 2018 regarding tangible cultural heritage, there is an absence of clear governance mechanisms and systems for the practical implementation of national cultural laws, policies and strategies. With regard to the occupation state, the paper indicated that the “Israeli” violations have not stopped since 1948 in obliterating the Palestinian cultural identity, which included the process of demolishing and destroying archaeological sites and villages even agricultural chains, in addition to the confiscation of thousands of sites, the last of which was 601 archaeological and historical sites in the occupied West Bank.

The marginalized Palestinian countryside and recommendations of institutions working in the cultural sector

Over the past years, Rozana Association has worked in marginalized Palestinian rural areas, which suffer from weakness in the implementation of cultural activities, restoration projects, preservation of heritage inventory and lack of documentation, which has caused the loss of part of the tangible and intangible heritage associated in the countryside. Thus, several recommendations were developed to preserve what remained of the cultural heritage, that institutions working in the cultural field seek to achieve and push for its adoption by the State of Palestine.

The recommendations focus on the importance of developing a comprehensive cultural development strategy with clear mechanisms on how to preserve cultural heritage, translating state policies to be able to protect and preserve the narrative and cultural heritage, using sustainable development plans in the countryside based on community tourism, in addition to promoting and protecting cultural, religious and civilizational diversity, provided that civil society institutions will cooperate to develop these programs and strategies.

The recommendations also referred to the need to complete the legal framework for the protection of tangible and intangible heritage, improve coordination between law enforcement agencies and local councils, and establish deterrent and strict penalties against local violations of cultural heritage, in addition to allocating a fund for archaeological excavations and restoration, and providing a national registry for immutable tangible and movable heritage.

Rozana Association for the Development of Architectural Heritage seeks, through this paper, to raise the voice of the cultural sector, lobby and advocate for the implementation and practice of cultural rights, and enhance the participation of human rights and cultural institutions in the local community in highlighting the needs of the countryside to be on the list of government priorities within the national protection and development plans.