NEW YORK – The United Nations Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, announced the appointment of three experts on Friday to “an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance” on May 31.

The experts, Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Sir Desmond de Silva, and Mary Shanthi Dairiam, are expected to report on their findings to the Human Rights Council in September, after traveling to Turkey,Gaza and Israel.

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The Human Rights Council’s resolution on June 2 to create an inquiry was decided less than 48 hours after the May 31 Gaza flotilla incident itself. The membership of the inquiry panel was expected to have been announced weeks ago. No reason was given for the delay.

Hudson-Phillips, of Trinidad and Tobago, was a judge on the International Criminal Court from 2003 to 2007. He has now returned to private practice with Chambers in Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada, West Indies.

Sir Desmond de Silva of the United Kingdom is a lawyer with “extensive experience in human rights, war crimes, terrorism, business crime, espionage trials and sports law,” according to a Human Rights Council press release. He was Chief Prosecutor of the UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia was a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women from 2005 to 2008. She has served on the Gender Equality Task Force of the United Nations Development Programme since 2007, and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.

In New York, news of the panel's formation was met with apathy. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had no comment on the Human Rights Council panel, and is “continuing with his efforts to win approval for his proposed international inquiry, which is separate from this one,” a spokesperson from his office said.

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