CCR and Allies Highlight U.S. International Law Obligations in Relation to Israeli Military Actions in Gaza

August 1, 2014 – In light of the ongoing violence in Gaza, which has already taken the lives of over one thousand civilians, including hundreds of children, the Center for Constitutional Rights is working to raise concerns regarding the need for state parties to protect civilians and abide by the law of war with the U.S. government.  On Friday August 1, 2014, CCR raised the issue of the U.S. obligations to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and domestic and international human rights law through the U.S. government’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) consultation process.   

Through the UPR, the U.S., like all other UN member states, has its human rights record reviewed.  To that end, the U.S. government has offered initial responses to a number of previous recommendations by the UN Human Rights Council and has sought input from civil society on its progress implementing human rights treaties and mechanisms. These are two recommendations and responses relating to Israel:
  • Recommendation 52: Ensure the implementation of its obligations under international humanitarian law vis-à-vis Palestinian people.
  • U.S. position: See general comments. The U.S. government complies with its international humanitarian law obligations, but we note that international humanitarian law governs conduct in the context of armed conflict, and cannot accept this recommendation’s implication that we are in an armed conflict with the Palestinian people.
  • Recommendation 227: That the model legal framework expressed by the Leahy Laws be applied with respect to all countries receiving US’s security assistance, and that the human rights records of all units receiving such assistance be documented, evaluated, made available and followed up upon in cases of abuse.
  • U.S. position: This recommendation enjoys our support except for the last part regarding making our decision-making publicly available. We apply the Leahy laws (which impose human rights-related restrictions on assistance to foreign security forces) to all countries receiving U.S. security assistance, and we respond appropriately in cases of abuse. However, to do so, we consider information from all sources, including classified sources, and cannot make our decision-making public.
In response, CCR, along with the American Friends Service committee, the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and justice, and the US Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation offered a statement to address the recommendations which directly link to U.S. human rights obligations relating to its support of Israel.  The statement makes clear that the U.S. has duties to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and seek accountability for grave breaches of the law even though it is not in armed conflict with Palestine. CCR highlights that the continued funding of Israel’s military, including a July 23, 2014 transfer of weapons to Israel, is contrary to this obligation. Moreover, the statement calls on the U.S. to fully and transparently implement the Leahy laws and other domestic laws which ensure U.S. military aid and training doesn’t go to forces which violate international humanitarian and human rights law. 
For more on International Humanitarian Law and U.S. Obligations in relation to the current conflict in Gaza, see this factsheet.


Last modified 

August 1, 2014