UN Human Rights Council Inquiry Is Tainted at the Core – Irwin Cotler (Canadian Jewish News)
The International Commission of Inquiry established by a special session of the UN Human Rights Council is “tainted at the core.” The resolution giving birth to the inquiry presupposes Israeli guilt, condemning “in the strongest possible terms, the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations in the occupied Palestinian territory.” It is thus an Alice in Wonderland resolution, where the conviction and sentence are secured before the inquiry begins.
The biased commission mandate not only presupposes Israeli criminality – which it references 18 times in the resolution itself – but it makes no reference at all to the Hamas spectrum of war crimes and crimes against humanity, let alone its ongoing terrorist war, during which it has launched 10,000 rockets targeting Israeli civilians since 2007.
The resolution refers to Israeli perpetration of “hate crimes,” but makes no reference to the Hamas Charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be.
It is therefore not surprising that the European Union characterized the UN Human Rights Council’s mandate as “inaccurate, unbalanced and prejudging the outcome.”
The commission is the creature of a fatally flawed resolution whose biased mandate presupposes Israeli guilt, and the systemic and systematic bias of the UN Human Rights Council is in gross violation of the UN Charter guarantee of “equal treatment of all nations, large or small.”
The Human Rights Council appointed Prof. William Schabas to chair the inquiry. Schabas has accused Israel of war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression committed “on the territory of Palestine since 2002,” while acknowledging that “much of [my] effort” is focused on bringing about the prosecution of Israelis at the ICC. Simply put, Schabas’ appointment to an already fatally flawed commission raises, at a minimum, a reasonable apprehension of bias, if not actual bias, and is a standing violation of the elementary principles of due process applicable to UN fact-finding missions.
The writer, professor emeritus of law at McGill University, is a former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada.