The Human Rights Council announced today that it will hold a special session on Thursday to discuss the report of the recent United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict that took place at the start of the year.
The session will begin at 3 p.m. – a day after the Security Council holds its own debate on the Middle East – and is likely to continue on Friday, the Council said in a press release issued from its headquarters in Geneva.
Earlier this month the 47-member Council decided to defer action on a draft resolution on the issue until March 2010, but it has now brought forward the debate following a request from Palestine that was co-sponsored by 18 countries.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the report of the UN fact-finding mission by telephone on Sunday with Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, a UN spokesperson said yesterday.
The mission, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, found evidence that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants committed serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law, which may amount to crimes against humanity, during the conflict in December 2008 and January 2009.
Presenting his report to the Council late last month, Justice Goldstone called for an end to impunity for those found to have committed human rights violations.
“It is accountability above all that is called for in the aftermath of the regrettable violence that has caused so much misery for so many,” he said.
Justice Goldstone urged the Council to implement a number of measures, including a referral of the mission’s report to the Security Council, since neither the Government of Israel nor the responsible Palestinian authorities have so far carried out any credible investigations into alleged violations.
Apart from Justice Goldstone, a former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the other members of the fact-finding team are: Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science at the University of London; Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders; and retired Colonel Desmond Travers, member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI).