8 May 2009 – Members of the fact-finding mission set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council to probe rights violations during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip wrapped up a week-long meeting in Geneva today.
The four-person team is led by the former prosecutor for International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Richard Goldstone of South Africa, who stressed the law-based approach the mission will take in preparing its report to the Geneva-based Council.
“I would like to emphasise that we will focus our investigation not on political considerations, but on an objective and impartial analysis of compliance of the parties to the conflict with their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, especially their responsibility to ensure the protection of civilians and non-combatants,” he stated.
“I believe that an objective assessment of the issues is in the interests of all parties, will promote a culture of accountability and could serve to promote greater peace and security in the region.”
During their week-long session, the team held initial meetings with a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including Member States and representatives of the UN and non-governmental organizations. It also established terms of reference and a three-month programme of work.
The mission intends to conduct visits to affected areas of Southern Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, including Gaza, and has requested the cooperation of the Government of Israel in this regard, according to a news release.
The other members of the team include Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science at the University of London; Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders; and Colonel (retired from the Irish Armed Forces) Desmond Travers, member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI).