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?