Internalizing International Human Rights Norms

This ongoing major project was initiated by the Minerva Center in 2011, in cooperation with partners in civil society and government, with the help of funding from the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) program.

Israel is legally committed to international human rights norms. It is a party to seven major universal human rights conventions, namely, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD); the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); the International Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT); the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The effectiveness of these human rights commitments depends, to large extent, on their internalization within the state. To this end, the Conventions generally require the adoption of appropriate domestic legislation, the conformity of all national laws and policies with the treaty commitments, and the provision of effective remedies in cases of violation of individual. Furthermore, the treaties establish standing Committees ("Treaty Monitoring Bodies", or "TMBs") charged, inter alia, with the monitoring of the internalization of human rights commitments, on the basis of periodic Reports that state parties are required to submit. TMBs comment on national Reports, usually in the form of "concluding observations". In addition, TMBs engage in detailed analysis and clarification of particular treaty commitments, producing "General Comments" that are considered authoritative interpretations of the relevant treaties. Concluding observations and General Comments are expected to guide states in the internalization of treaty commitments.

Civil society can play a vital role in this process of internalization, and in many jurisdictions it does. NGOs act as demandeurs vis-à-vis their government, bringing to its attention inconsistencies between national laws and international commitments, and suggesting ways in which the latter can be better implemented. Many governments consult with NGOs while preparing their reports to TMBs and in considering follow up action designed to apply TMBs' concluding observations and general comments. Moreover, TMBs invite or permit NGOs to directly provide them with information on treaty implementation, in the form of 'parallel' or 'shadow' reports. Ideally, states should facilitate the dialogue between civil society and government through the creation of national human rights institutions and mechanisms, such as human rights commissions.

However, no such focal point existed in Israel prior to this Minerva Center project.

Components of the project include:

The development and establishment of a model for government / civil society / academia consultations in the Israeli TMB reporting process and a coordination mechanism between official governmental reporting and NGO parallel reporting, with the goal of developing improved TMB reporting and follow-up processes in Israel. This included, inter alia, the establishment of a joint supervisory committee including senior civil society practitioners, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, and leading scholars; comparative research on existing models of state reporting to the TMBs and follow-up between the government and interested civil society organizations in other countries; pilot implementations of closed government / civil society consultations in specific, real reporting contexts; and finally, the implementation of an ongoing consultation mechanism.

The development of a proposed model for an Israeli National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), based on comparative and domestic research and on dialogue with and between government and civil society practitioners. The proposal is available here.

The establishment of a detailed Hebrew-language database annotating and correlating the treaties and TMB general comments and concluding observations to existing Israeli legislation and jurisprudence, in a way that will facilitate access to the international documents by Israeli researchers and advocates. This work was done by Hebrew University law students under the supervision of the project coordinators and co-directors, and is now available here.

Translation into Hebrew –of numerous important general comments and concluding observations issued by TMBs. This work was done by professional legal translators under the supervision of the project coordinators and directors.

Public symposia and consultations on specific issues of compliance raised by the TMBs in the Israeli context, in order to partly fill the gaps in structured follow-up to TMB specific recommendations.

A research group headed Prof. David Kretzmer and also including Mr. Shlomi Balaban, Prof. Tomer Broude, Prof. Amichai Cohen, Dr. Hala Khoury-Bisharat, Prof. Leslie Sebba and Prof. Yuval Shany. The group produced several ground-breaking articles in Hebrew, which were published in a dedicated October 2017 issue in (No. 10) of Hukim, the HUJ Law Faculty journal dedicated to legislative issues.

Familiarization of Israeli civil society and government practitioners with the UN thematic Special Rapporteurs framework and the potential that cooperation with relevant Rapporteurs may offer for the enhancement of human rights in Israel. The Center has hosted a series of current and former Special Rapporteurs in Jerusalem during the course of the project, and facilitated closed meetings for them with civil society and government officials (as well as public lectures).

Increasing the number of government agencies and civil society organizations, including academia, which assimilate the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were set as a global agenda to be implemented by 2030, and use them to promote social, economic and political change in Israel. The Minerva Center established a forum for civil society, government, and academia that is working to promote a dialogue on the goals in general as well as more specific policy issues that can be promoted while assimilating and implementing the SDGs. Additionaly, the Minerva Center has created an implementation guide for government officials and is working on an assimilation guide for civil society organizations. Read more aobut this project here



The European Union


This project is funded
by the European Union

הפרויקט יצא לפועל בזכות התמיכה הכספית של האיחוד האירופי. כלל התכנים באתר הם באחריות מרכז מינרבה לזכויות האדם, ואינם משקפים בהכרח את עמדות האיחוד האירופי.

The project was created and maintained with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Minerva Center for Human Rights and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.