GENEVA, September 30 – A top figure in the human rights world has called for William Schabas to “recuse himself” from the new UN probe on Gaza, undermining Schabas’ claim that the only people who believe he should go are critics of the UN.
The statement was made last week by Aryeh Neier, founding director of Human Rights Watch, former head of the ACLU, and President Emeritus of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, and revealed today in a Wall Street Journal interview with UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
In a lecture at the SciencesPo Paris School of International Affairs, where Neier teaches together with Schabas, the former said that commissions of inquiry are one of the few good things to come out of the UN Human Rights Council.
Turning to Schabas, Neier called him a well known and leading scholar. However, given Schabas’ statement on bringing Netanyahu to ICC, Neier said that “Schabas should recuse himself.”
Neier said that “any judge who had previously called for the indictment of the defendant would recuse himself.”
Schabas’ appointment gives Israel a perfect excuse to denounce the UN commission of inquiry, said Neier. “Why make it so easy for Israel to do so?” he asked.
Neier went on to say that the sheer quantity of resolutions against Israel at the UN Human Rights Council gives Israel the ability to cast the HRC as “anti-Israel” and therefore to “justify its own rejections of the HRC.”
The revelation comes one day after a similar call by Mordechai Kremnitzer, a top Israeli legal scholar who serves on the Public Council of the human rights group B’Tselem.
“The damage to the inquiry is redoubled when its chair has already declared his desire to see the prime minister of Israel in the dock at the International Court of Justice,” wrote Kremnitzer in an op-ed. “He cannot be perceived as an unbiased investigator.”