Ban delivers update on Goldstone follow-up 19Aug10 August 20, 2010

Ma’an News Agency -  19 August 2010

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made no comment Tuesday, on submissions by Israeli and Palestinian commissions tasked with follow-up on recommendations made by the Goldstone report.

Following a request by the UN General Assembly, Ban submitted to the body a 247-page report on progress and updates, which was described by news wires as having “brief observations” about progress being made, but little else.

The report is the second submitted to the UNGA by Ban, and like the first made no demands or requests of parties charged with following up on allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity found to be credible by a UN-mandated commission lead by Justice Richard Goldstone in 2009.

The Goldstone report said that during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead – which saw more than 1,400 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip killed, more than 5,000 injured, 6,000 homes destroyed or damaged beyond use, and government infrastructure in tatters in the space of three weeks – war crimes and crimes against humanity may have been committed by Israeli forces and Gaza militant groups.

Goldstone called for investigations into the incidents outlined in his report, and suggested that the infrastructure to properly internally investigate the claims may not exist in either Israel or Palestine. If internal investigations were not possible, the report said, the issue should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

In November 2009, Ban gave parties three months to launch credible investigations. In February, the UN gave both sides an additional five months to conduct their inquiries.

A team of experts from a UN follow-up committee was in Gaza the week before Ban addressed the UNGA, and his report included their findings.

“I reiterate that international human rights and humanitarian law need to be fully respected in all situations and circumstances,” Ban wrote in his report.

“Accordingly, on several occasions, I have called upon all of the parties to carry out credible, independent domestic investigations into the conduct and consequences of the Gaza conflict. I hope that such steps will be taken wherever there are credible allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

The issue of the Goldstone report follow-up is expected to be raised at the 15th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, which is scheduled to run from 13 September to 1 October.

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