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The Human Rights Council this morning adopted eight resolutions, including one in which it established a committee of experts in the context of follow-up to the Goldstone report and another in which it extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Korea for one year.
On follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, the Council reiterated the call by the General Assembly upon the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side to conduct investigations that were independent, credible and in conformity with international standards into the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law reported by the Fact-Finding Mission, with a view to ensuring accountability and justice. The Council established a committee of independent experts in international humanitarian and human rights laws to monitor and assess any domestic, legal or other proceedings undertaken by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side.
Action on Resolutions Under the Agenda Item on Human rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories
In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.30) on follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, adopted with twenty-nine in favour, six against, and eleven abstentions, as orally amended, the Council reiterates the call by the General Assembly upon the Government of Israel to conduct investigations that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards into the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law reported by the Fact-Finding Mission, with a view to ensuring accountability and justice; reiterates the urging by the General Assembly for the conduct by the Palestinian side of investigations that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards into the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law reported by the Fact-Finding Mission, with a view to ensuring accountability and justice; calls upon the High Commissioner to explore and determine the appropriate modalities for the establishment of an escrow fund for the provision of reparations to the Palestinians who suffered loss and damage as a result of unlawful acts attributable to the State of Israel during the military operations conducted from December 2008 to January 2009; decides to establish a committee of independent experts in international humanitarian and human rights laws to monitor and assess any domestic, legal or other proceedings undertaken by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side, in the light of General Assembly resolution 64/254, including the independence, effectiveness, genuineness of these investigations and their conformity with international standards; and invites the International Committee of the Red Cross and interested parties and stakeholders to consider the launching of an urgent discussion on the legality of the use of certain munitions, as recommended by the Fact-Finding Mission.
Draft resolution L.30 was presented by Pakistan at the end of yesterday’s meeting (please see separate release, HRC/10/45).
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (29): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Uruguay and Zambia.
Against (6): Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine, and United States of America.
Abstentions (11): Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, France, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
AHARON LESHNO-YAAR (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said the draft resolution now being considered would do nothing to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together, and offered no real hope for the resumption of negotiations. Despite the claims of the Palestinians, even they did not really believe that the draft resolution would actually help their people move towards a better future and peaceful coexistence with Israel. Like the other resolutions adopted yesterday, the agenda behind L.30 was so one-sided, biased and defamatory that it crossed the line of being only anti-Israeli. There was no condemnation in any of the texts of the ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza, no mention of Hamas, no call on the sides, the Quartet or even the United Nations to do anything about resuming dialogue. The idea of forming a new committee of experts – a new group to write a new round of “Goldstonesque” reports – would be a new sinkhole for United Nations resources. It clearly contradicted and duplicated last month's General Assembly resolution which asked the Secretary-General to report on investigations by the end of July, as the committee of experts would shoot out another report less than two months later, and further confuse the landscape of the law, confusing international human rights law with the laws of conflict. No such committee had been formed by the Council before, and it would serve as a dangerous precedent for other such situations.
Only one side had shown introspection on its legal processes since the end of the conflict; only Israel had shared with the public and the international community its considerations, challenges, ideals and structures on its international law responsibilities. Without any connection to cynical manoeuvring by the Palestinians, only Israel had remained committed to sharing its findings. While the Goldstone report had creatively suggested such a committee, it had suggested and recommended that it be formed by the Security Council. The Palestinians had lost interest in the details of the proposal, and suggested it be moved to the Human Rights Council, where they were sure they had the votes. Watching the manner in which the Council operated this week, it was useful to remember the thoughtful words of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan: Palestinians and their supporters would never be effective if they focused solely on Israel's transgressions without paying attention to Israel's concerns, and without admitting that Israel's opponents had committed appalling crimes. He had also stated that some of the rhetoric used in connection with the issue implied a refusal to consider the very legitimacy of Israel's existence, and the validity of its security concerns.
IBRAHIM KHRAISHI (Palestine), speaking as a concerned country, called upon the Council to assist Israel to respect the law – to be an ordinary member of this group, and to stop acting as if it were above the law, exaggerating and disregarding all norms and laws. Palestine believed that what the Council had been attempting to do yesterday by adopting the three resolutions was in keeping with international human rights law. There had been no single political text, and if such were the case Palestine would be happy to remove it. As for the draft under consideration now, it would strengthen the work of the Council. Everybody repeated daily the words “accountability” and “responsibility”. If those words were not the guide, then what would the Palestinian people be given? Palestine was committed to law and would hold itself accountable to its commitments. In that connection, a committee had been formed by independent persons and the results would come in line with international criteria.
In the draft resolution before the Council the question of reparation was discussed, and Palestine called upon the Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake a study on the forms of reparations for those who had suffered damage. In practical terms, the first responsible party was Israel. That had nothing to do with politics, but would give hope to any parts of the world were civilians had been attacked. On the question of weapons, Palestine called for a serious discussion of the utilization of internationally banned weapons. There were cluster bombs that still exploded in the face of children as the result of the use of internationally banned cluster munitions. Light had to be shed on such events, and such weapons should not be used. The draft resolution strengthened the credibility of the Council and indicated the possibility given to that organ to have a mechanism that allowed investigation and implementation of the resolution that had established the Council in the first place. Palestine thanked all who had voted for previous resolutions on this item and those who would vote for the present draft resolution.
JUAN JOSE GOMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico) said Mexico rejected resorting to violence as a way to solve conflict. It condemned the military action that was taking place. It was imperative to ensure strict adherence to international humanitarian law and a full respect for human rights. Those had to be observed by all. Mexico attached the greatest importance to having independent groups investigate human rights violations that had been committed. It was also aware of the complexity that Palestine was facing in carrying out investigations. Mexico feared, however, that it was premature to create an independent expert committee. Moreover, the reparations fund mentioned in paragraph 8 appeared to only recognize victims from one of the parties. Mexico was further concerned that all efforts needed to be focused and that the multiplication of initiatives would only polarize the situation and further jeopardize the finding of a solution.
EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), speaking in an explanation of vote before the vote, said that, as members of the Council, there was a shared responsibility to respond to allegations to human rights violations around the world; and yet the response often differed as to how best to respond. Such differences regarding the situation in the Gaza Strip had been on display since the Goldstone report had come out last September. Allegations about events that took place in Gaza had to be taken seriously, and warranted serious domestic action. The best way to address and present abuses arising from the conflict was to end it through a comprehensive peace settlement involving two States living side by side in peace and security. The Human Rights Council was not the venue for reaching an Israeli-Palestine peace agreement. The foremost responsibility for upholding human rights lay with the Governments involved, as it was their duty to investigate allegations of human rights violations and hold perpetrators responsible.
The United States recognized the work that Israel had carried forward and Palestine had begun in order to investigate the situation. Much more work remained to be done. Israel was a well-established democracy, and had charged its institutions to investigate accountability measures on the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority had taken a responsible step by announcing the creation of a commission to investigate the effects on Palestinians of the conflict. There should be accountability on both sides for violations, and the domestic processes should be left to play out of their own accord. The United States called for a vote on the resolution, and would vote against it.
HECTOR RAUL PELAEZ (Argentina), in an explanation of vote before the vote, said Argentina would vote in favour of the draft resolution. However, it would have been desirable that the fund mentioned covered victims of both sides, even though Palestine of course had suffered the majority of casualties and losses.
CARLOS PORTALES (Chile), speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, said that yesterday, all Council Members had acknowledged that for peace there had to be two independent States that would live together side by side. Members had also approved a resolution to put an end to the policy of settlement in Occupied Territories. Chile had also condemned the launching of missiles that had cost lives. Chile could only support efforts made to build peace. It favoured the respect of human rights and international humanitarian laws. Unfortunately, the draft resolution moved away from a universal approach. That was partly why it would have to abstain from endorsing the draft resolution.
JAN SIEBEN (Netherlands), also speaking on behalf of Hungary and Slovakia in an explanation of vote before the vote, said it was essential for the Council to handle the Goldstone report and its follow-up in a consistent manner. There should be investigations on both sides, as stipulated in the Goldstone report, and respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law had to remain an integral part of that process. Draft resolution L.30 was silent on follow-up on both sides, and instead created another follow-up mechanism. It was the responsibility of the parties to conduct their follow-up investigations, but they could ask the international community for technical assistance. The draft resolution, further, did not include the responsibility of both the parties. Holding a Conference of the Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention would not help the process. In addition, the use of certain types of ammunition did not fall in the scope of the Council. The concerned parties should continue their investigations of the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and those should be reported back to the Council. For those reasons, Hungary, Slovakia and the Netherlands would vote against the draft resolution.
LAURA MIRACHIAN (Italy), in an explanation of vote before the vote, said the peace process in the Middle East was a common priority. The need for accountability had to be taken into account as the report of the Fact-Finding Mission had noted instances of grave violations of international human rights law. Italy acknowledged that relevant steps had already been taken, and said the text before the Council introduced new elements and follow-up mechanisms that would duplicate existing efforts. Italy was therefore not in a position to support the text and would vote against it.
LUCIA TRUCILLO (Uruguay), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said it would vote in favour of draft resolution L.30. However, it stressed that the draft resolution should include the protection of all people without making distinctions on their race or creed.
SHINICHI KITAJIMA (Japan), speaking in an explanation of vote before the vote, said as stated earlier this week in the general debate, violence towards civilians by any State or non-State actor was a violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian law and those responsible should be brought to justice. Thus, Japan joined the call by the General Assembly to hold investigations that were independent, credible, and in conformity with international standards. However, Japan also had to say that the decision to establish a committee of experts should have been made in a more cautious manner, including the necessity to avoid duplication with the relevant procedures, the appropriateness of the mandate, and the timing of its establishment. Further discussion should have been held on those elements. Based on those considerations, Japan would abstain from voting, and sincerely hoped that the discussion on this issue in the Council, including the adoption, would not adversely affect the efforts by all parties to achieve a just, lasting peace in the Middle East.
BEATE STIRO (Norway), in an explanation of vote before the vote, said Norway supported General Assembly’s resolution 64/254, which called on all parties to conduct investigations that were independent and complied with international standards. In the follow-up of the Goldstone report it was essential to ensure a coherent United Nations approach and operative paragraph 9 of the draft resolution contradicted the General Assembly resolution. Therefore, Norway could not support draft resolution L.30 and would abstain.
VALERY LOSHCHININ (Russian Federation), in explanation of the vote after the vote, said the Russian Federation had noted that the parties had held in-depth talks on the draft resolution. Co-sponsors had also taken into account a number of considerations. Russia was particularly satisfied with Pakistan’s amendment in paragraph 9. If all parties concerned had been able to adopt other amendments, the draft resolution would have received even wider support.
HUGO BRAUWERS (Belgium), speaking in an explanation of vote after the vote, said that the consultations on draft resolution L.30 had been prematurely ended, and constructive amendments had not been included. Belgium also regretted the discussion in operative paragraph 8, which proposed a new mechanism. Belgium was attached to combating impunity in human rights and international law in general, and attached great importance to the respect of international humanitarian law in conflicts by all parties, State and non-State. The principle of accountability was one that meant that all allegations of serious human rights violations and humanitarian law should be investigated in depth, and those who had committed violations should be held responsible, and victims compensated if possible, and for that reason, all parties should complete their investigations. Dialogue was the proper tool for stopping future violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and to remedy the violations that had been committed.
For use of the information media; not an official record