Amnesty International criticises Ban Ki-moon for “missing opportunity” to assess Israeli and Palestinian probes

February 6, 2010
 International human rights watchdog Amnesty International has accused United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of “missing a crucial opportunity by failing to make an assessment of the credibility of Israeli and Palestinian investigations into violations during the three week attacks in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel in December 2008.

“This is deeply disappointing and a missed opportunity to help secure accountability for the conflict’s hundreds of victims,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement posted by the watchdog on Friday.

Ban Ki-moon indicated on Thursday that “no determination can be made” on whether either the Israelis or Palestinians are complying with a UN General Assembly resolution of November 2009 that urged both sides to carry out investigations “that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards”.

The resolution requested the Secretary-General to report within three months on their implementation, “with a view to considering further action”. The resolution was based on the Goldstone Report, which accused both sides of war crimes.

The Secretary-General attributed his lack of action to the fact that “processes initiated” by the Israeli and Palestinian authorities were “ongoing”.

UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky said that Ban “was not asked (in the resolution) to express his views on the responses. His job was to put together the information he received. This is done and transmitted to the General Assembly, and provides an overview of where things stand.”

Jean-Victor Nkolo, Spokesman for General Assembly President Ali Treiki, told the same briefing that “member states will consult on further course of action. The Assembly President remains strongly committed to the cause of peace and justice in the Middle East.”

However, Amnesty International insisted that the information in the possession of the UN top man was sufficient to show that steps being taken by both sides were clearly inadequate and that this message should have been clearly conveyed to them in the report.

Amnesty International suggested that the UN Secretary-General could remedy the situation by immediately preparing an independent assessment of the steps being taken by Israel and the Palestinians to address accountability and requesting input from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other independent experts in international humanitarian and human rights law.

Amnesty International said that the assessment should be made available to the General Assembly and the Security Council in the coming months and provide a solid basis for decisions on further action that are necessary to secure accountability for both sides. This may include an eventual referral of the situation in Gaza by the UN Security Council to the International Criminal Court.

According to an Amnesty International assessment, the responses presented to the UN Secretary-General by Israel and Palestinian representatives demonstrate that neither side has taken the necessary steps to conduct investigations “that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards”.

Amnesty has described the response of the Israeli authorities as “totally inadequate”, since investigations undertaken by them to date have failed to meet “international standards of independence, impartiality, transparency, promptness and effectiveness”


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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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