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Un Rights Council Condemns ‘Israeli Violations’

Un Rights Council Condemns ‘Israeli Violations’

The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution today condemning “grave Israeli violations of human rights” in Lebanon, called for all parties to respect the rules of humanitarian law, and decided to immediately send a high-level team to investigate.

By a vote of 27 in favour, 11 against with four abstentions, today’s special session of the Council, which was called to discuss the worsening conflict, also requested that the inquiry commission report back to the 47-member body by 1 September.

Among others, the Council “strongly condemns the grave Israeli violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law in Lebanon…calls upon Israel to observe the principle of proportionality and refrain from launching any attack that may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life.”

“[It]…urges all concerned parties to respect the rules of international humanitarian law, to refrain from violence against the civilian population and to treat under all circumstances all detained combatants and civilians in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.”

The Council also decided to “urgently establish and immediately dispatch a high-level inquiry commission comprising eminent experts of human rights law and international humanitarian law.” Among others, the commission will investigate “the systematic targeting and killings of civilians by Israel.”

At the start of the day-long debate, which saw speeches from more than 50 Member States and representatives of regional groups along with representatives from 14 non-governmental organizations, the top UN rights official stressed the need for a probe to investigate attacks against civilians both in Lebanon and northern Israel.

“Civilians must never be the object of a direct intentional attack…And yet, almost on a daily basis, information from the field indicates an alarming pattern in the scale and choice of targets by all sides in the conflict,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour told the meeting in Genῥva.

“The deaths of hundreds of civilians in documented and corroborated incidents, involving either random or targeted attacks on civilian vehicles or buildings, strongly suggest the indiscriminate use of force,” she added, highlighting both the effect on civilians of Israeli attacks and Hizbollah’s indiscriminate shelling of northern Israel.

“There is a clear and urgent need to bring clarity to a situation in which facts and allegations are now given the same credit but without the benefit of systematic, independent, thorough and credible scrutiny.”

She drew attention to the Israeli attack on 30 July in Qana, southern Lebanon, which killed scores of civilians, including a large number of children, who had sought shelter there, and also spoke of the “repeated allegations of Hizbollah’s systematic use of civilians as human shields.”

“The independence, impartiality and objectivity of such an inquiry must be guaranteed not only by the credibility of the panel members, but also by the scope and methodology of their mandate…It should address all violations by all parties, and lay the foundation for possible measures of reparation and accountability.”

Ms. Arbour said she was “particularly concerned” about the humanitarian situation of the population remaining in the south of Lebanon, especially following the destruction of the last bridge over the Litani River.

“They are in dire need of food, water, and medical assistance, which humanitarian workers are no longer able to deliver… The plight of displaced persons in the war zone and of refugees in neighbouring countries is also of grave concern. Their right to food, to health, to adequate housing, the right of their children to education ῭must be respected.

“Nearly a month from its beginning and worsening by the day, this crisis demands a firm and meaningful response from this Council,” she said, of the body that was set up to replaced the much-criticized Human Rights Commission.

Today’s special session was called in response to a request from Tunisia on behalf of the Group of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which was supported in total by 16 Member States.

In a related development, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this afternoon adopted a statement on Lebanon expressing concern that the continuation of the conflict “may intensify racial discrimination and hatred in the region and the wider world.” The Committee held a debate on the worsening conflict earlier this month.


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