Human Rights Council Votes in Favour of Justice for Victims of Gaza Conflict

Human Rights Council Votes in Favour of Justice for Victims of Gaza Conflict

Today, 25 March 2011, the Human Rights Council adopted a Resolution seeking to advance the cause of justice for the victims of Israel’s 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip. In particular, the Resolution recommends that the General Assembly submit the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone Report), to the Security Council to consider referring the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory to the International Criminal Court.

 The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ (PCHR) longstanding experience working within the Israeli system, and our position as representatives of over 1,000 victims of Operation Cast Lead, has resulted in the unequivocal conclusion that justice is impossible within this system. Rather than uphold the rule of law, the Israeli investigative and judicial system is artfully manipulated to provide an illusion of investigative and judicial rigour, while systematically perpetuating pervasive impunity. 

Palestinian investigations have also proved ineffective and insufficient with respect to the demands of international law.

 In light of the genuine unwillingness and inability of domestic mechanisms, it is apparent that recourse must be had to mechanisms of international criminal justice.

Today’s Human Rights Council Resolution is a concrete step in the right direction. PCHR and FIDH now call upon the General Assembly and the Security Council to ensure that the rule of law is upheld. The Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, must refer the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory to the International Criminal Court. 

EU and other States fail to decisively uphold the rule of law

PCHR and FIDH condemn the refusal of States – such as the USA, UK and Slovenia – to support justice for the victims of Operation Cast Lead. In light of the available evidence noting the failure of domestic investigations, and the clear legal requirement in favour of accountability, their vote was a vote for impunity.

Furthermore, by failing to endorse today’s Resolution the EU has failed to live up to its long-standing public commitment to combat impunity and uphold human rights. Today’s vote stands in sharp contrast with the recent decision to refer the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court, and evidences a disregard for the universality of human rights and the equal application of the rule of law. This decision undermines the credibility of the European Union’s ostensible commitment to justice, which was publicly reaffirmed as recently as the 21 March 2011 Decision on the International Criminal Court.