OPT: Calling for a special session - An opportunity to ensure that justice is not delayed, an opportunity to rectify the wrongs, and an opportunity for the member states to act for victims at the UN Human Rights Council

On 1 October 2009, the UN Human Rights Council decided to defer consideration of the report issued by the UN Fact Finding Mission investigating last winter's Israeli aggression into Gaza until March 2010. This decision represented a failure of the international framework for the protection of human rights, and a blow to the victims of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The Palestinian Authority failed to stand up for its own people, and the Human Rights Council failed to fulfill its own responsibilities and mandate.

It is now incumbent upon the forty-seven Member States of the Human Rights Council to pay heed to their obligations and the public demand for accountability and take all the necessary measures to rectify their grave failure and provide justice to the victims of the attack against Gaza, referred to as "Operation Cast Lead". The victims of the 23 day military aggression, which killed at least 1,400 Palestinians and injured more than 4,000, continue to suffer from the destruction levied during the offensive, as well as from Israel's ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is now in its third year.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Therefore, we call upon the Human Rights Council to convene a special session without delay in order to endorse the Fact Finding Mission's report and its conclusions and recommendations in their entirety. Convening a special session provides the international community with an opportunity to ensure that the report is not sidelined over the coming months and its recommendations are endorsed in their entirety and implemented fully. Only then will the Human Rights Council discharge their essential mandate and the international community will be able to uphold their obligations to ensure respect and protection of human rights.

The report submitted by the Fact Finding Mission is thorough and impartial. The Mission's impartiality is evidenced by their examination of alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by all parties. It is essential that the Human Rights Council acts immediately to fulfill its mandate and to promote the centrality of the rule of international law in the search for justice and accountability in the wake of the Israeli offensive called Operation Cast Lead.

We therefore call upon:

- The Palestinian Authority and the PLO to publicly, effectively and immediately ensure the convening of a special session of the Human Rights Council,

- The Member States of the Human Rights Council to request the convening of a special session;

- The Member States of the Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution endorsing the report by the Fact Finding Mission in its entirety; and,

- The Observers of the Human Rights Council to support the Member States in their convening of a special session and adoption of a resolution endorsing the entirety of the report by the Fact Finding Mission.


Adalah * Adameer * Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights - Gaza * Al-Haq * Arab Association for Human Rights * Al-Mezan * Badil * Defence for Children International - Palestine * ENSAN center * Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies * Women Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling * Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre