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Statement on the Decision of CERD Regarding Jurisdiction Over an Inter-state Communication Against Israel
January 6, 2020

U.S. Mission To The United Nations And Other International Organizations In Geneva

The United States expresses its profound disappointment with the recent decision of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in which the Committee claims to have jurisdiction over the inter-state communication submitted by the “State of Palestine” against Israel under Article 11(2) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Shortly after the deposit of an instrument of accession to the CERD with respect to the “State of Palestine,” Israel communicated to the depositary that “[t]he Government of Israel does not recognize ‘Palestine’ as a State, and wishes to place on record, for the sake of clarity, its position that it does not consider ‘Palestine’ a party to the Convention and regards the Palestinian request for accession as being without legal validity and without effect upon Israel’s treaty relations under the Convention.”

The Committee has rightly “acknowledge[d] that under general international treaty law, a State Party to a multilateral treaty may exclude treaty relations with an entity it does not recognize, through a unilateral statement.” However, in determining nonetheless that it has jurisdiction to consider the communication, the Committee has wrongly asserted that this principle of treaty law does not apply, on the grounds that human rights treaties, and the CERD in particular, are for “the common good.” This legally incorrect assertion ignores established rules of treaty interpretation, a conclusion also reached by five members of the Committee in a dissenting opinion.

Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, noting his concern with the decision, stated, “The Committee’s disregard for treaty law raises serious questions about the legitimacy of this process. The United States will continue to advocate for fair treatment for Israel in this and other international fora.”