Rights groups: UN General Assembly must adopt Goldstone recommendations

On 4 November 2009, the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report) is scheduled to be tabled before the Plenary of the UN General Assembly in New York. Following the Report’s endorsement at the Human Rights Council on 21 October 2009, it now falls to the General Assembly to ensure that the Report is endorsed and its recommendations acted upon. The General Assembly must promote and support the primacy of international law in the necessity of ensuring justice and accountability for the war crimes and possible crimes against humanity that characterized Israel’s assault on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.

The Palestinian human rights community fully endorse the Report and urge the General Assembly to adopt each of its recommendations. We are calling for the GA to:

a) fully endorse the Report of the Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict;

b) urge the Security Council to endorse the Report, and to expeditiously pursue all accountability mechanisms presented therein; and report to the GA on the progress in this matter;

c) demand that credible internal domestic investigations and prosecutions be carried out by the parties to the conflict in accordance with international standards of impartiality, independence, promptness and effectiveness;

d) remain fully appraised of the matter until appropriate action is taken at the domestic or international level in order to ensure justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators;

e) establish an escrow fund for the purpose of compensating the victims of violations of international law committed during Operation Cast Lead;

f) request Switzerland to convene a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to ensure its respect;

g) promote an urgent discussion on the use of munitions such as white phosphorous (as mentioned in the Report), and a moratorium on their use by Israel.

It is no less crucial that over the coming weeks and months, given the statements from several of the Permanent Member States of the Security Council that they will oppose consideration of the Report in that forum, that the issue be pursued by all appropriate international mechanisms and UN Bodies. Should the Security Council fail to ensure accountability as demanded in the Report, and by the victims, the GA should prepare for further action. The focus of the General Assembly and of the Security Council must at all times be on ensuring accountability for the crimes documented in the Goldstone Report.

The Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization, as the representatives of the Palestinian people, must also strive to ensure full implementation of the Report. Palestinian advocacy and activism at the General Assembly is crucial in ensuring that lessons are learned from recent experiences which saw international legal obligations sidelined in favor of political expediency.

The international community of States, along with civil society, and the general public must stand firm and united in upholding the conviction that both State and non-state actors must respect international human rights and humanitarian law; that there is no peace and security without justice; and that accountability for violations of international law is fundamental.

Undersigned organizations: Adalah - Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Addameer, Al Dameer Association for Human Rights, Al-Haq - Law in the Service of Man, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section, Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, Jerusalem Legal Aid Center, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies, Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling