HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DECIDES TO DISPATCH FACT-FINDING MISSION TO INVESTIGATE VIOLATIONS AGAINST PALESTINIANS IN OCCUPIED TERRITORY
Press Release by UN Human Rights Council, 12 January 2009The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its ninth Special Session on the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the recent aggression of the occupied Gaza Strip, and adopted a resolution in which it strongly condemned the ongoing Israeli military operation in Gaza, which had resulted in massive violations of human rights of the Palestinian people, and demanded the occupying power, Israel, to immediately withdraw its military forces from Gaza. The Council also decided to dispatch an urgent independent international fact-finding mission to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
In the resolution, adopted by a roll-call vote of 33 in favour, one against and 13 abstentions, the Council called for the immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks throughout the Palestinian Occupied Territory and called upon the occupying power to end its occupation of all Palestinian lands occupied since 1967, and to respect its commitment within the peace process towards the establishment of the independent sovereign Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. The Council also demanded that the occupying power stop the targeting of civilians and medical facilities and staff as well as the systematic destruction of cultural heritage. It demanded further that the occupying power lift the siege and open all borders. It also requested the Secretary-General of the Untied Nations to investigate the latest targeting of UNRWA facilities in Gaza, including schools, that resulted in the killing of tens of Palestinian civilians, including women and children.
Speaking as a concerned country, Israel said the current resolution was not balanced and did not reflect the realities in the Gaza Strip and did no service to the cause of peace or to the human suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. Such a resolution would only embolden Hamas and weaken the trust of the Israeli public in the United Nations and the Council. Less than a month ago, the Middle East Quartet had issued a statement reaffirming the bilateral, direct, uninterrupted, confidential and ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The members of the Council should echo this support. Only such negotiations would bring to fulfilment the two-State vision. Resolutions, such as today’s one would not serve this goal.
Also speaking as a concerned country, Palestine said concern at the events in Gaza Strip could not help but be voiced, in particular with regards to the suffering of the Palestinian people and their terror and despair, which could not be accepted. Palestine could not accept expressions of concern when there were more than 4,000 wounded, and more than 800 martyrs, more than half of which were women and children. Palestine could not accept words of concern when talking about civilians who were falling. The barbaric acts of aggression required a call for the establishment of a fact-finding mission to investigate the Israeli slaughters and acts of terror.
In the context of the general debate, the Council heard from a national human rights institution, and from a wide range of non-governmental organizations which called for an end to hostilities and efforts to be made to improve the humanitarian situation within Gaza. Speakers in the general debate noted that the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination had been ignored for more than 40 years, during which the occupying power had flagrantly ignored international law, humanitarian law, and the directives of this and other bodies. A Commission of Inquiry should be set up to investigate effectively and impartially the violation of human rights and humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip. Within the mandate of this Commission should be to draw up a list of violations of both human rights and humanitarian law; identify those responsible for those violations and launch legal action against them; and identify the victims and the damages incurred and ensure full reparation. Others said the proposed draft resolution was a totally one-sided and self-defeating statement whose predictable outcome, if adopted, would, like the previous ones on the issue, regrettably have a negative effect on the credibility of the Council. Israel, as a United Nations member, had the right to defend itself. Israel allowed aid into Gaza, warned civilians before an incoming attack and tried to save civilian lives whenever possible. On the other side Hamas was solely targeting civilians in Israel. Hamas had refused to recognise the very existence of Israel. The international community should use all its force to ensure protection of civilian populations and ensure a just and long-lasting solution. All human beings had the right to peace and security. If the Council was to have a credible role in ensuring human rights around the world it should act to ensure respect for the law and should counsel the General Assembly to act in this, the most serious and longest unresolved situation of widespread human rights abuses facing the United Nations.
Speaking this morning in the general debate was the Irish Human Rights Commission. NGOs speaking were the Coordination Board of Jewish Organizations, in a joint statement with B’nai B’rith International, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Association for World Education, in a joint statement with World Union for Progressive Judaism, World Federation of Trade Unions, Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples, Caritas Internationalis (International Confederation of Catholic Charities, in a joint statement with Pax Romana, Europe-Third World Centre, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Federaciَn de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promociَn de los Derechos Humanos, Union of Arab Jurists, in a joint statement with International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), Franciscans International, Defence for Children International, World Organization against Torture, United Nations Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, European Union of Jewish Students, Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH), Indian Movement "Tupaj Amaru", International Commission of Jurists, North-South XXI, and Women’s International Zionist Organization.
Speaking in a right of reply in the general debate was Syria.
Speaking in the context of the debate on the resolution was Egypt, in introduction of the resolution, Israel as a concerned country, Palestine as a concerned country, and Egypt as a general comment. Speaking in explanations of the vote before the vote were Canada, Germany on behalf of the European Union, and Switzerland. Speaking in explanations of the vote after the vote were South Africa, Japan, Russian Federation and Uruguay.
The tenth regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 2 to 27 March 2009.
Action on Resolution
In a resolution (L.1/Rev.2) on the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip, adopted by a roll-call vote of 33 in favour, one against (Canada), and 13 abstentions, the Council strongly condemns the ongoing Israeli military operation carried out in the Occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, which have resulted in massive violation of human rights of the Palestinian people and systematic destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure. It calls for the immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks throughout the Palestinian Occupied Territory; demands the occupying power, Israel, to immediately withdraw its military forces from the occupied Gaza Strip; calls upon the occupying power to end its occupation to all Palestinian lands occupied since 1967, and to respect its commitment within the peace process towards the establishment of the independent sovereign Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital; demands the occupying power stop the targeting of civilians and medical facilities and staff as well as the systematic destruction of cultural heritage; demands further the occupying power lift the siege, open all borders; requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the violations of human rights of the Palestinian people by the occupying power; requests all relevant Special Rapporteurs to urgently seek and gather information on violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people and submit their reports to the next Human Rights Council session; requests the occupying power to fully cooperate with all the above-mentioned Rapporteurs; decides to dispatch an urgent independent international fact-finding mission to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and requests the Secretary General of the United Nations to investigate the latest targeting of UNRWA facilities in Gaza, including schools, that resulted in the killing of tens of Palestinian civilians including women and children.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (33):Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay, and Zambia.
Abstentions (13): Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.