UN Settlements Probe Had Verdict Declared in Advance

If you think last week’s report  by the UN Human Rights Council settlements probe, led by Christine Chanet, was an objective examination of the facts, consider yourself a fool.

The resolution authorizing the “fact finding” mission — with the mandate to investigate how Israeli settlements affect the “civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people” — decided from the outset that the settlements constituted “very serious violations” of “the human rights of the Palestinian people.”

That and numerous other conclusions of fact and law were dictated in advance — see full text of the resolution below — in blatant violation of the UN’s own objectivity and impartiality requirements, as set forth in its Declaration on Fact-finding, GA Res 46/59 (1991), Art. 3.

Sadly, when it comes to the HRC’s mandates on Israel, this is not the exception but the rule. Previous commissioners, and leading NGOs, have acknowledged this repeated bias:

  • The authors of the HRC’s inquiry into the 2006 Lebanon war — which examined only actions by Israel and ignored those by Hezbollah — admitted that to be “independent, impartial and objective,” their investigation would have had to examine all sides. They declined to remedy their probe’s one-sided bias, however,  so as not to “exceed the Commission’s interpretative function” and “usurp the Council’s powers.” (Report, Pars. 6-7.)
  • Judge Richard Goldstone, whose report was endorsed by the Hamas terrorist organization, refused the mandate created by the UNHRC, as did former UN rights chief Mary Robinson, because it was “biased against Israel.” The eventual mandate he agreed to take on was one he purported to have revised so that it examined all sides. (For more, see note 25 here.)
  • Even Human Rights Watch, a sharp critic of Israel, acknowledged in this context that “an investigation that looks at the actions of only one party is insufficient and will be criticized, justifiably, as biased and incomplete.”

So why is it that Christine Chanet, Asma Janhangir and Unity Dow accepted a mandate that may lead to investigations of alleged breaches of international humanitarian law, without insisting upon an objective mandate inquiring into the conduct of all parties to the conflict — one that did not unduly restrict the mission in the investigation of the subject and its context? Why did they accept a predetermined verdict?

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Human Rights Council
Nineteenth session
Agenda item 7
Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories

Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council

19/17 Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Reaffirming that all States have an obligation to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, as stated in the Charter and elaborated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other applicable instruments,

Recalling relevant resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights, the Human Rights Council, the Security Council and the General Assembly reaffirming, inter alia, the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, including in East Jerusalem,

Mindful that Israel is a party to the fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, which is applicable de jure to Palestinian and all Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, and recalling the declaration adopted by the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, held in Geneva on 5 December 2001,

Considering that the transfer by the occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies constitutes a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and relevant provisions of customary law, including those codified in Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949,

Recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and its conclusion that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, were established in breach of international law,

Recalling also General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004 and other relevant United Nations resolutions,

Affirming that the Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and constitute very serious violations of international humanitarian law and of the human rights of the Palestinian people therein, and undermine international efforts, including the Annapolis Peace Palestinian State of 17 December 2007, aimed at invigorating the peace process and establishing a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State by the end of 2008,

Recalling the statement made by the Quartet on 21 September 2010 and its attachment to the implementation by the parties of their obligations under the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and noting specifically its call for a freeze on all settlement activities,

Expressing its grave concern about the continuation by Israel, the occupying Power, of settlement building and expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including plans to expand and connect Israeli settlements around Occupied East Jerusalem, thus threatening the creation of a contiguous Palestinian State,

Expressing its concern that continuing Israeli settlement activity undermines the realization of a two-State solution,

Expressing grave concern about the continuing construction, contrary to international law, by Israel of the wall inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and expressing its concern in particular about the route of the wall in departure from the Armistice Line of 1949, which could prejudge future negotiations and make the two-State solution impossible to implement and which is causing the Palestinian people further humanitarian hardship,

Deeply concerned that the wall’s route has been traced in such a way as to include the great majority of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Expressing its concern at the failure of the Government of Israel to cooperate fully with the relevant United Nations mechanisms, in particular the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967,

1. Welcomes the conclusions of the Council of the European Union on the Middle East peace process of 8 December 2009, in which the Council reiterated that settlements, the separation barrier where built on occupied land, demolition of homes and evictions are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-State solution impossible, and particularly its urgent call upon the Government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities, in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, and including natural growth, and to dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001;

2. Welcomes with appreciation the statements made by the majority of the States Members of the United Nations on the illegality of settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and reaffirming the urgent calls by the international community upon the Government of Israel to stop immediately all settlement activities, including in East Jerusalem;

3. Condemns the recent Israeli announcements of the construction of new housing units for Israeli settlers in the West Bank and around occupied East Jerusalem, as they undermine the peace process, constitute a threat to the two-State solution and the creation of a contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State, and are in violation of international law, and calls upon the Government of Israel to reverse immediately its decisions, which would further undermine and jeopardize the ongoing efforts by the international community to reach a final settlement compliant with international legitimacy, including relevant United Nations resolutions;

4. Expresses its grave concern at:

(a) The continuing Israeli settlement and related activities, in violation of international law, including the expansion of settlements, the expropriation of land, the demolition of houses, the confiscation and destruction of property, the expulsion of Palestinians and the construction of bypass roads, which change the physical character and demographic composition of the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, and constitute a violation of the fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and in particular article 49 of that Convention, and recalls that settlements are a major obstacle to the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace and to the creation of an independent, viable, sovereign and democratic Palestinian State;

(b) The increasing number of newly built structures, in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 amounting to several thousands, including a large number of permanent buildings and structures, which undermine the efforts of the international community to advance the Middle East peace process;

(c) The implications for the final status negotiations of Israel’s announcement that it will retain the major settlement blocks in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the settlements located in the Jordan Valley;

(d) The expansion of Israeli settlements and the construction of new ones on the occupied Palestinian territory rendered inaccessible behind the wall, which create a fait accompli on the ground that could well be permanent, in which case it would be tantamount to de facto annexation;

(e) The Israeli decision to establish and operate a tramway between West Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev, which is in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions;

5. Urges Israel, the occupying Power:

(a) To reverse the settlement policy in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, and, as a first step towards their dismantlement, to stop immediately the expansion of the existing settlements, including “natural growth” and related activities, including in East Jerusalem;

(b) To prevent any new installation of settlers in the occupied territories, including in East Jerusalem;

6. Calls upon Israel to take and implement serious measures, including confiscation of arms and enforcement of criminal sanctions, with the aim of preventing acts of violence by Israeli settlers, and other measures to guarantee the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians and Palestinian properties in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;

7. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with its legal obligations, as mentioned in the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice;

8. Urges the parties to give renewed impetus to the peace process in line with the Annapolis Peace Conference and the Paris International Donors’ Conference for the Palestinian State, and to implement fully the road map endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003, with the aim of reaching a comprehensive political settlement in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council, including resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 446 (1979) of 22 March 1979, 452 (1979) of 20 July 1979, 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980, 476 (1980) of 30 June 1980, 478 (1980) of 20 August 1980, 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003 and 1850 (2008) of 16 December 2008, and other relevant United Nations resolutions, the principles of the Peace Conference on the Middle East, held in Madrid on 30 October 1991, the Oslo Accords, the Arab Peace initiative and subsequent agreements, which will allow two States, Israel and Palestine, to live in peace and security;

9. Decides to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, with a mandate ending on submission of a report to the Council, and calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, not to obstruct the process of investigation and to cooperate fully with the mission;

10. Requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all administrative, technical and logistical assistance to enable the mission to fulfil its mandate promptly and efficiently;

11. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the present resolution at its twentieth session;

12. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

53rd meeting
22 March 2012

Adopted by a recorded vote of 36 to 1, with 10 abstentions. The voting was as follows:

In Favor: Angola, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, Uruguay.

Against: United States of America

Abstaining: Cameroon, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain.

2 Responses to “UN Settlements Probe Had Verdict Declared in Advance”


  • How many times does the UN and in particular the HRC have to be exposed and discredited for its dishonest and fraudulent behaviour before the international community starts to take notice of the excellent work and exposure presented by UN Watch

  • Now we need a judicial probe into the verdict that came before the probe

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