UN appoints Goldstone monitoring c'tee

Israeli, Palestinian proceedings to be “monitored and assessed."

June 15, 2010 06:58
3 minute read.
Goldstone in Gaza.

Goldstone in Gaza 311 ap. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)


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A three-person panel to monitor Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the Goldstone Report was appointed Monday by the United Nations high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay.

In March, a UN Human Rights Council resolution insisted on the formation of a committee to ensure that Israel and the Palestinians conduct independent probes into their alleged human rights violations during Operation Cast Lead.

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The probes were demanded by the Goldstone Report, compiled last summer by a four-person fact-finding mission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone. The report accused both Israelis and Palestinians of possible war crimes in Gaza, but the bulk of its text focused on Israel.

The committee is mandated to “monitor and assess any domestic, legal or other proceedings undertaken by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side… including the independence, effectiveness and genuineness of these investigations and their conformity with international standards.”

“The committee will focus on the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian and international human rights laws during the Gaza conflict, in order to prevent impunity, assure justice, deter further violations and promote peace,” Pillay said. “These three experts are eminently suited to fulfill the committee’s mandate, and I would like to take this opportunity to call on all relevant parties to fully cooperate with the committee.”

The new trio of experts – Professor Christian Tomuschat, Justice Mary McGowan Davis and Mr. Param Cumaraswamy – will meet shortly to define its plan of action and establish contacts with all relevant parties linked to its future activities.

Tomuschat, who chairs the committee, is a Professor Emeritus at Humboldt University Berlin. He worked for 22 years at the Law Faculty of the University of Bonn as the director of the Institute of international law. He has also served as a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, president of the International Law Commission, chairperson of the Guatemalan Historical Clarification Commission, member of the International Commission of Jurists and judge of the Inter-American Development Bank and the African Development Bank. He is the author of numerous books and articles on human rights and humanitarian law.

Davis served as a justice on the Supreme Court of the State of New York and as a federal prosecutor in that state. She has been involved in mentoring and training lawyers and judges in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mongolia and Rwanda. She visited Cambodia and Sierra Leone on missions relating to the establishment of war crimes tribunals in those countries, and has also served as a consultant to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court.

She is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for the International Commission of Jurists and the International Judicial Academy, and serves on the Managerial Board of the International Association of Women Judges.

Cumaraswamy, a renowned jurist and human rights expert, served from 1994 to 2003 as the special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on the independence of judges and lawyers. He is a barrister at law from the United Kingdom and former president of the Bar Association of Malaysia, where he now practices law. He is an active member of several organizations, including the Law Association of Asia and the Pacific, the International Commission of Jurists and the Advisory Council of the American Bar Association Center of Human Rights. Mr. Cumaraswamy is the author of numerous articles on human rights, humanitarian law, the rule of law and judicial independence.

The committee is expected to report back to the UN Human Rights Council at its September session.

A progress report on compliance with the Goldstone Report is also expected to be published this summer by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

Israel has insisted that its military probe of Operation Cast Lead meets the standards held by any democracy for such an investigation.

It has complained that the Goldstone Report was biased and flawed. In March Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva told The Jerusalem Post that the formation of the monitoring committee would continue to bring needless publicity to the Goldstone Report.

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