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Human Rights Council defers decision on UN probe into Gaza conflict

2 October 2009 – The Human Rights Council today decided to defer action on a draft resolution concerning the report of the recent United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict at the start of this year.

The Council had been expected to vote on the resolution today but will now consider the text at its next session, scheduled to take place in March 2010 in Geneva.

Zamir Akram, a representative of Pakistan, told the 47-member Council that the co-sponsors of the resolution – the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Arab group, the African group and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – had requested that discussion of the resolution be deferred until the next session to allow more time for members to consider the contents of the fact-finding probe.

That investigation, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, found evidence that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants committed serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law, which may amount to crimes against humanity, during the conflict in December 2008 and January 2009.

Presenting his report to the Council at the start of this week, Justice Goldstone called for an end to impunity for those found to have committed human rights violations.

“It is accountability above all that is called for in the aftermath of the regrettable violence that has caused so much misery for so many,” he said.

Justice Goldstone urged the Council to implement a number of measures, including a referral of the mission’s report to the Security Council, since neither the Government of Israel nor the responsible Palestinian authorities have so far carried out any credible investigations into alleged violations.

Apart from Justice Goldstone, a former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the other members of the fact-finding team are: 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 retired Colonel Desmond Travers, member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI).

Today the Council wrapped up its current session by adopting another six resolutions and one decisions on issues ranging from the situation in Myanmar and the adverse effects of the dumping of toxic wastes.

During this session the Council also appointed Pakistan’s Farida Shaheed as Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights and Tanzania’s Mohamed Chande Othman as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan. The mandates of the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia and the Independent Expert on Somalia were extended by one year.

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