In view of the upcoming UN General Assembly (GA) discussion on the report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (hereafter the 'Goldstone Report') to be held on 4 November 2009 in New York, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) calls on the EU and its 27 Member States to play a leading role towards the full endorsement of the Goldstone Report and its recommendations by the GA.
The report is a significant step forward towards justice and redress for the victims, in a region which has suffered from a culture of impunity and disrespect for the rule of law for too long.
The Goldstone Report is a watershed and its endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on 16 October 2009 represented a major step towards the promotion of human rights and the rule of law.
However, the pursuit of justice additionally requires the implementation of the report’s recommendations, which provide tangible tools for accountability of those responsible for war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.
The EU and its 27 Member States not only have obligations as High Contracting Parties of the Geneva Conventions to ensure respect for these conventions, but they also must adhere to EU treaty obligations.
In particular, they must respect Article 11 of the Treaty on the European Union, which establishes the consolidation of the rule of law and the respect for human rights as one of EU’s foreign policy objectives.
Despite the EU’s key role as member of the Quartet in mediating the “peace-process”, since the signing of the Oslo Agreements, the EU has too often adopted a discourse and practice, which effectively sacrifices human rights and international law for the sake of advancing a non-existing “peace process”.
This approach has been tried, and it has failed.
The sharp increase in illegal settlements, the construction of the Wall, Israeli house evictions and demolitions in East Jerusalem and the continued blockade of the Gaza Strip as well as its political and territorial separation from the West Bank, all critically undermine the prospects of establishing a Palestinian State, and exemplify this failure.
The EMHRN and FIDH firmly believe that human rights and the rule of law are essential components in the pursuit of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and as such must be viewed as a foundation of any peace process.
In this highly polarized and politicized atmosphere around the Goldstone Report, the EU and its Member States must uphold their stated commitment to fight impunity,( EU statement at the UN Security Council on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, New York, 14 October 2009: http://www.
19297 ) to uphold the rule of law and promote respect for international law.
Political agendas must not triumph over human rights and accountability.
During the recent UN HRC special session, the EU exhibited inconsistency, a lack of consensus and did not live up to its stated commitments.
The demonstrated disunity within the EU offers an opportunity to re-think the EU’s current policies towards Israel and the OPT, and the ‘peace process’.
EU policy must be built upon a genuine respect for human rights and international law, and accountability must be recognized as a top priority in the pursuit of a just and sustainable peace.
Given the gravity of the violations of international law and the war crimes committed and the allegation that possibly crimes against humanity have been committed by Israel and the Palestinian armed groups, the EMHRN and FIDH urge the EU, in the context of the General Assembly session on 4 November, to sponsor a resolution endorsing the Goldstone report and its recommendation addressed to the GA.
The EU Member States should also call on Israel and Hamas to promptly initiate serious independent investigations into their acts that have violated international humanitarian law and human rights and play an effective role in assisting the UN in monitoring potential investigations and other actions aimed at ensuring implementation of international law.
Any investigations must live up to relevant international standards.
In view of the lack of compensation by Israel and the continued prevention of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Gaza, the EMHRN and FIDH call on the EU and its Member States to use all means at their disposal to implement the Report's recommendations to create a mechanism to compensate Palestinian civilians for damage or losses incurred during the military operations to be paid by the State of Israel in accordance with its international legal obligations.