Human Rights Council adopts two resolutions and closes its twenty-ninth regular session
Human Rights Council
In a resolution on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, the Council called for the implementation of all the recommendations in the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict and called upon concerned parties to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, 1 against and 5 abstentions.
Israel, speaking as a concerned country, rejected this resolution, which it considered a “manifesto against Israel” that failed to address the reality on the ground and violations by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.
State of Palestine, also speaking as a concerned country, welcomed this resolution and the balanced report by the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict and condemned the killings of civilians in Gaza.
Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories
Action on Resolution on Ensuring Accountability and Justice for All Violations of International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem
In a resolution (A/HRC/29/L.35) on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, 1 against and 5 abstentions, the Council calls upon all duty bearers and United Nations bodies to pursue the implementation of all the recommendations contained in the report of the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict; calls upon the parties concerned to cooperate fully with the preliminary examination of the International Criminal Court and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened; and recommends that the General Assembly remain apprised of the matter. The Council also requests the High Commissioner to present a report on the implementation of the present resolution, as well as on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the reports of the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict and of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, to the Council at its thirty-first session.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (41): Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.
Against (1): United States of America.
Abstentions (5): Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Paraguay, and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Pakistan, introducing the resolution on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, explained that the objective was to welcome the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict, and to call for the implementation of its recommendations. It was imperative to end impunity for violations of international law in the occupied State of Palestine. The resolution emphasized the safety and well-being of all civilians, and reaffirmed the obligation to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflict. It called on all States to promote compliance with human rights obligations and all high contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. It requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present a report on the implementation of the resolution, and on the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission’s report.
Israel, speaking as a concerned country, said that this Council had lost its bearing and said that the resolution distorted the intention of the authors of the report by completely ignoring the violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Hamas. Israel was defending its population from attacks by a terrorist organization in Gaza; Israel went to great lengths to warn the population in Gaza about impending attacks; and it was firmly committed to investigate alleged violations and this process must be allowed to run its course. This Council would not succeed in delegitimizing Israel and preventing Israel from defending itself and its population. This Council acted as an agent provocateur, feeding the flames instead of extinguishing them. Israel stressed that it would continue to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as well as fundamental principles of democracy and the rule of law.
State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, thanked the co-sponsors of the draft resolution. Palestine found that the Commission of Inquiry’s report was balanced and impartial, documenting the crimes of terrorism committed against civilians, including the destruction of property and infrastructure during the 2014 Gaza conflict. Many victims were children. Religious sites, hospitals and ambulances were also targeted. The occupying force continued to commit premeditated terrorist acts. There was a need to recall the primacy of fundamental freedoms and human rights. The State of Palestine asked the President of the Council to make the occupying force take responsibility and respect international law. Those who would vote against the draft resolution or abstain from it would contribute to the negative effect on the work of the Council.
Latvia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, commended the Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza Conflict for the clear implementation of its mandate and considered that nothing in this resolution would be interpreted as going beyond the finding of the Commission. The European Union reiterated its position that any human rights situation could be addressed under the Council’s agenda item 4. While appreciating that much had been done to improve the text, the European Union noted concern about operative paragraphs one and two and said that it was premature to make judgement on the complex document and that it was important to first seriously examine the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry before implementing them.
United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the United States devoted considerable effort to forging peace in the Middle East and believed that the ultimate solution to the conflict was the creation of two States to live side by side. The status quo was not a solution. The draft resolution focused exclusively on alleged Israeli violations and did not talk about violations committed by Palestinians even though they were specifically mentioned in the Commission’s report. The United States called for a vote and would vote no.
France, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its commitment to combatting impunity throughout the world and stressed that respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law were essential to peace in the region. The tragedy of the 2014 Gaza conflict must not happen again and perpetrators of violations, whoever they might be, must be brought to justice. France thought that the draft resolution should have mentioned the rocket attacks by Hamas, but also thought that the text was balanced and would vote in favour. It was now necessary more than ever to establish a system to deliver justice for the Palestinians.
Saudi Arabia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said its commitment towards the Palestinian issue had never changed, and that agenda item 7 was the most appropriate means to discuss the situation in Gaza and the other occupied Palestinian territories. Saudi Arabia urged the Human Rights Council to get Israel to stop its continued violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and to relinquish its logic of force and to recognize a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital city and to stop its aggression against Palestine. The report of the Commission of Inquiry confirmed that Israel was the biggest violator of human rights in the world. Saudi Arabia called upon all States not to stand as onlookers, not to be silent against the most violent aggressors of human rights, and to advocate for the promotion of human rights.
Paraguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, restated its commitment to all human rights mechanisms, including the Independent Commission of Inquiry and its report. The Israeli and Palestinian authorities were obliged to ensure that those who violated human rights law and humanitarian law were brought to justice and accountability, and that victims had reparations. Paraguay welcomed the fact that Israel was conducting an investigation and repeated its belief that dialogue and direct negotiations between the two parties were the only way to achieve sustainable and lasting peace. Paraguay appealed to the parties to resume their negotiations, and urged for a fair resolution of the conflict in which two States would exist side by side. Paraguay would have supported a resolution on peaceful negotiations. Therefore, it abstained from voting on the resolution.
United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the report underscored the importance of achieving a two-State solution. Targeting civilian populations was a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Israel had the right to defend itself, but its response had to be proportionate. The United Kingdom urged all sides to take all measures to protect the civilian population and comply with international humanitarian law. The allegations outlined in the Commission’s report had to be fully investigated by all involved parties. The United Kingdom would prefer to have seen a text that gave more weight to Israel’s right to self-defence, but it would nevertheless vote in favour.
Explanation of Vote before the Vote and General Comments after Adoption of the Resolution under the Agenda Item on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories
Kazakhstan said it would continue to provide full support for the restoration of stability in the Middle East as an indispensable condition for a just and lasting peace in the region. Kazakhstan condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, as they nullified the positive results achieved in the course of many years of negotiations between the Israeli and the Palestinians. At the same time, the fight against terrorist groups should not lead to loss of lives and suffering among civilian populations.
India said that its long-standing position on the Palestinian issue and the use of violence and recourse terrorism was well known. India was not a party to the Rome Statue for previously stated reasons. Because of these, India decided to abstain in the vote.