U.N. Human Rights Council fails to ratify changes to Goldstone Mission

While on April 3, 2009, the UNHRC president purported to give new terms of reference to Judge Richard Goldstone’s fact-finding mission, the ensuing council session in June failed to take up UN Watch’s challenge (below) to ratify the purported changes, thereby legally preserving intact the original one-sided mandate that pre-determined Israel’s guilt.

UN Watch speech to the UN Human Rights Council’s 11th session, June 15, 2009, Agenda Item 7 on the “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,” delivered by Abigail Chernick.

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Thank you, Mr. President.

Judge Goldstone is an honourable man. In agreeing to head this council’s fact-finding mission into the Gaza conflict, we know he had the best intentions.

Initially, we were surprised that he accepted this task. After all, the mandate created by this council, in Paragraph 13 of the January resolution, is entirely one-sided.

It examines actions by Israel, but not Hamas.  It presumes guilt in advance, determining Israel to be the aggressor, and the perpetrator of violations. As former High Commissioner Mary Robinson said, “unfortunately… I don’t think that’s a human rights approach.”

Mr. President, only in an upside down world is a fact-finding mission created after the facts-and the law-have both been determined in advance.

That is why the EU, Japan, Canada and Switzerland refused to support this mandate. And that is why Mary Robinson rejected the offer to head the mission.

Now, Judge Goldstone said he received additional terms in order to examine both sides.

But when did the council revise its mandate?  If it was revised, why does the annotated agenda of this session still quote the original, one-sided terms?

We need to know:  do the Council members that sponsored the January resolution approve of examining Hamas as well?

Judge Goldstone’s report will certainly include findings that the Palestinian government in Gaza committed war crimes against Israeli civilians, and also against their own civilians, by holding them hostage as human shields.

Judge Goldstone needs to know:  Do the representatives of Egypt and the Arab Group, of Pakistan and the Islamic Group, and of the Palestinians, agree today that they will accept his recommendations regarding Hamas crimes?

Mr. President, in 2006, when Professor Alston and three other rapporteurs dared to mention violations by Hezbollah, they were vilified here in the Council. The same happened to Jodi Williams in 2007 when she reported on Sudan.

Judge Goldstone deserves to know: Do the countries that sponsored the January resolution accept this purported change of mandate, or not?

Thank you, Mr. President.

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