United Nations Human Rights Council: 15th Session
Item 7: General Debate
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
27 September 2010
Delivered by: Ms. Laila Matar
n a joint letter being circulated today, which has been signed by NGOs from every region, including from both Israel and Palestine, human rights defenders from around the world express their belief that “20 months after Operation Cast Lead, sufficient time has been granted to the parties to the conflict to demonstrate a willingness and/or ability to carry out investigations into alleged war crimes according to international standards.” Yet, despite this, “the extensive factual evidence gathered by organizations [in Israel and Palestine] clearly demonstrates that these domestic investigations and prosecutions have not conformed to international standards of justice, and lack basic requirements of independence, transparency, impartiality and/or effectiveness.”
It is in this context that we call on this Council to:
1. Acknowledge and condemn the failure of all responsible parties to comply with their obligation to carry out genuine investigations in accordance with Resolutions of the HRC and GA, and the consequent need for the international community, including all relevant UN bodies, to take action to uphold victims’ rights, and ultimately to promote respect for the rule of international law through all tools available to the international community;
2. Recommend that the UN General Assembly urge the UN Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, to refer the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and request that individual ICC States Parties refer the situation in Israel and Palestine to the Prosecutor, in accordance with Article 14 of the ICC Statute, and in the interests of international peace and security;
3. [and] Request that High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 comply with their legal obligation to investigate and prosecute all suspected grave breaches of the Conventions, including through the exercise of universal jurisdiction.
We firmly believe failure to ensure recourse to international justice in this instance will only entrench the conflict by sending the message to the perpetrators of war crimes in Israel and the OPT that impunity for such acts will continue indefinitely.
This is a pivotal moment, both for international law and for the legitimacy of this Council. We urge this Council to rise above political expedience, and act now to protect victims of War Crimes throughout the world.
Thank you Mr. President
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