Council consider and decides to follow-up report of Flotilla inquiry
Friday, 01 October 2010 15:59


On 28 September 2010, the Human Rights Council (the Council) considered the report of the fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law resulting from the Israeli attacks on a humanitarian flotilla carrying aid to Gaza. Justice Karl Hudson-Phillips, who headed the fact-finding mission, presented the report. He stated that the mission was able to achieve a comprehensive assessment of the events despite lack of cooperation from Israel. Mr Hudson-Phillips noted that the mission saw the need to reinterpret its mandate to ensure its findings were not predetermined. Interestingly, several States welcomed that the mission had taken these steps to ensure a balanced approach (India, South Africa, Brazil, Malaysia).


The mission interviewed more than 100 passengers from the flotilla as it believed it particularly important to obtain eye-witness accounts of the events. The report found that the nine persons killed and over 50 injured was the result of live ammunition fired by Israeli soldiers. The report concludes that Israel violated international humanitarian law and human rights law during the interception of the flotilla and the detention of many of its passengers. Additionally, the report calls into question the legality of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. It concludes that the grave humanitarian situation resulting from the blockade amounts to collective punishment and consequently the blockade is illegal.


The illegality of the blockade emerged throughout discussions, with several States (Egypt, Thailand, Saudi Arabia) affirming the blockade as a form of collective punishment, a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The European Union (EU) called on Israel to honour UN Security Council Resolution 1860 which called for an easing of the blockade to allow humanitarian aid to flow.


Israel expressed concern that the Council’s resolution mandating the mission was predetermined and reiterated its criticism of the Council’s focus on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Unsurprising, Israel had few supporters of that view with many States (Pakistan (on behalf of the OIC), Egypt, Cuba, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Thailand, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Lebanon) welcoming the report of the mission and reaffirming the need for this human rights situation to remain at the forefront of international debate. Conversely, the United States (US) voiced its concern about the unbalanced tone of the report and welcomed the Secretary-General’s creation of a Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident. The US views the panel commission as the prime method to evaluate the attack as it has the support of both Israel and Turkey. The EU, while not referring to the mission’s findings in its address, suggested the report be submitted to the panel commission.


Members of the mission and many States (Jordan, Algeria, Yemen, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Maldives) expressed the desire to see the Human Rights Council follow-up on the conclusions of the report to ensure accountability for the violations committed and that just reparations are given to victims and their families.


The Council adopted by a majority vote a resolution on follow-up to the report. Thirty States voted in favour, one against (the US) and 14 abstained. Pakistan introduced the resolution stating that follow-up to the report was necessary and fell within the mandate of the Council. The US voted against the resolution as it opposed the report being considered by the General Assembly, as called for in the text. The EU abstained and explained that it believed that the resolution should have requested that the report be transmitted to the Secretary-General’s panel.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 October 2010 16:23
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