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UNHRC appointed members of Commission of Inquiry to probe human rights violations in Gaza

Aug 13, 2014 11:00 IST

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 12 August 2014 appointed three member to its Commission of Inquiry to probe possible war crimes and human rights violations during a month long conflict in Gaza. The panel will also investigate human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including Jerusalem. The conflict on the Gaza strip began on 13 June 2014.

The commission will be headed by William Schabas a Canadian international criminal law and human rights professor at Middlesex University in London. The other two members include Amal Alamuddin of United Kingdom (British-Lebanese lawyer, specialising in international law and human rights) and Doudou Diene of Senegal (was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance from 2002 to 2008).


The panel has been tasked to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law. The commission will also establish the facts and circumstances of violations and crimes perpetrated and also identify those who are responsible. It will also recommend accountability measures with a view to avoid and end impunity and ensure that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways to protect civilians against any further assaults.

Previous works of the panelists are
• Schabas has served on the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission until 2004 and was also a member of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in Human Rights.
• Diene has also served as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Cote d'Ivoire from 2011 to 2014.
• Alamuddin has worked at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and as legal adviser to the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

The decision to constitute the Commission of Inquiry was taken on 23 July 2014 during UNHRC’s 21st session after 29 countries voted in favour and a sole negative vote by the United States. The council meet also saw 17 abstentions.

The Members of Commission of Inquiry were appointed under HRC resolution S-21/1. The same resolution requested that the commission of inquiry present a written report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-eighth session in March 2015. The same resolution requested the High-Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the implementation of the resolution, including on measures taken with regard to ensuring accountability for the serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, to the Council at its twenty-seventh session in September 2014.

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President of UN Human Rights Council - Baudelaire Ndong Ella

Background
The figures cited by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that since outbreak of the conflict on Gaza strip at least 1948 Palestinians have been killed of whom maximum were civilians. On the other hand, 67 Israelis have also been killed.

Apart from this, about 425000 people are seeking shelter either in UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) facilities, government shelters or with host families. The attacks during the conflict has destroyed or damaged around 11855 housing units in Gaza.

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