UN Human Rights Council Is Abusing Human Rights for Political Ends – David Pannick (The Times-UK)
(dailyalert.org, Sept. 9, 2014)
On July 23, the UN Human Rights Council adopted (by 29 votes to 1, with 17 abstentions, including the UK and the other EU states) a resolution condemning “widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations” carried out in Gaza. The resolution decided to “dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry” to investigate violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza. The commission is to report by next March.
The resolution was remarkable in two respects. First, that the Human Rights Council should condemn before receiving the report of the inquiry that it had commissioned to investigate. And second, that the condemnation does not mention Hamas, which has been responsible for appalling human rights violations including public executions of opponents of the regime.
The EU refused to support the resolution, concluding that it was “unbalanced, inaccurate, and prejudges the outcome of the investigation.” The EU added that the resolution “fails to condemn explicitly the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israeli civilian areas as well as to recognize Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself.”
Gaza poses difficult questions of international human rights law. In particular, what are the limits on proportionate action by a state under attack by a neighboring government dedicated to its destruction by all possible means, and which launches attacks from civilian centers without concern for its own people? Unfortunately, clear-sighted answers to the legal questions will not come from the UN Human Rights Council or its inquiry.
The determination of the council, and many of its members, to abuse human rights for political purposes is undermining the role of international law.
Lord David Pannick, QC, former Deputy High Court Judge, is a leading human rights lawyer in the UK.