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UN’s Gaza Report Favors EU Cases on Geneva Conventions, Sri Lanka Raised, Pascoe Waits

[Inner City Press, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 08:36 No Comment]

The UN’s report on the Gaza conflict, released on Tuesday, notes that the UN "Mission supports the reliance on universal jurisdiction as an avenue for States to investigate violations of grave breach provisions of the Geneva Convention of 1949." It refers to Gaza related cases against Israel pending in the Netherlands and Norway, where an arrest warrant against Ehud Olmert is being sought. Report here, see pages 514-15.

At the news conference announcing the report, Inner City Press asked the Mission’s leader, Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, what he thinks of indicting Olmert, and if his investigation identified war crimes by any nationals of a state which is a member of the International Criminal Court, which would give the ICC jurisdiction even absent a referral from the UN Security Council. Video here, from Minute 59:59.

Goldstone answered that for "grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions," all countries have jurisdiction and even a duty to investigate and apprehend those responsible. He said that all member states of the UN are parties to the Geneva Conventions. While he said that grave breaches of the Conventions are just a "narrow ambit of the matters we reported," one wonders why for example this theory could not be applied to the Sri Lanka conflict which continued to escalate after the "hot" conflict in Gaza ended in January 2009.

On September 14, the head of the UN’s Department of Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe was asked if the UN Secretariat would support Goldstone’s report when it was released. Let’s wait and see, Pascoe said. Some concluded that the UN Secretariat would have its finger in the wind, and wait and see whether to support the report based on reactions to it. Now, let’s wait and see.

Footnote: Goldstone’s press conference was moderated by the UN’s Ahmad Fawzi, who took over from the Spokesperson’s Office during the conflict between Israel and Lebanon in 2006, and who traveled with Ban Ki-moon to Gaza after the conflict. His presence marked how important the UN Secretariat thought this press conference would be. While it was surely difficult to try to get all questions in, two minutes from the end of the briefing Fawzi loudly claimed he wasn’t sure if Inner City Press wanted to ask a question. Video here, from Minute 58:46.

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