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A letter by human rights organizations to the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States on the General Assembly’s session

Dr. Nabil El Araby

Secretary General

Arab League

Secretariat – Tahrir Square

P.O. Box 11642

Cairo, Egypt


16 September 2011


Dear Dr. Araby,


We are writing to you as the annual session of the UN
General Assembly gets underway, in relation to the pursuit of accountability
for victims of crimes under international law and follow-up to the Report of
the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.


To date, the victims of crimes under international law
committed by all sides in the context of Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip
from 27 December 2009 to 18 January 2009 have not received justice, truth or
reparations. It is unambiguously clear that all sides have failed to conduct
domestic investigations that are prompt, effective, independent and in
conformity with international law, and failed to prosecute suspected
perpetrators. This failure has been confirmed by national and international
human rights organizations, as well as the UN Committee of Independent Experts
established by the Human Rights Council.[1]


Consequently, the 16th session of the Human Rights
Council recommended that the forthcoming session of the General Assembly submit
the Report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict to the Security
Council, with the recommendation[2]
that the Security Council refer the situation in Israel and the Occupied
Palestinian Territory to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,
pursuant to Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute.


As the national authorities are unable or unwilling to carry out genuine
investigations or prosecution
s, the
pursuit of accountability at the international level is of urgent and paramount
importance to combat the pervasive impunity for state and non-state actors in
Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Enforcing international law and
pursuing accountability for crimes under international law by all sides is the
only deterrent to further violations and the continuing denial of human rights
of the victims.


We request that you support the recommendation of the
Human Rights Council, and act decisively to pursue accountability and uphold
victims’ rights. The two-year process triggered by the Report of the
Fact-Finding Mission must be allowed to reach its full legal conclusion.


The failure to administer justice domestically means
that victims’ rights can only be upheld through international justice
mechanisms, and most appropriately the International Criminal Court.


We note that recognition of Palestine’s statehood is
set to become a centre-point of diplomatic discussion at the upcoming General
Assembly. However, the pursuit of accountability in no way conflicts with this
discussion. Accountability for crimes under international law applies at all
times, and to all peoples, regardless of any other criteria.


Indeed, at such a time, it is imperative that the
international community sends the clear and unambiguous message that
accountability for crimes under international law will be pursued, irrespective
of any political considerations.


Yours sincerely,


Raji Sourani

Director, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights


Kamel Jendoubi

President, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network



General, Amnesty International


Souhayr Belhassen

President, FIDH


Issam Younis

General Director, Al Mezan


Shawan Jabarin

General Director, Al-Haq

1. In
A/HRC/16/24, the Committee of Independent Experts held that: “there is no
indication that Israel
has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned,
ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.”

2.  Resolution A/HRC/16/32, adopted on 25 March
2011: “
Recommends  that the General Assembly reconsider the
report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict at its
sixty-sixth session, and urges the Assembly to submit that report to the
Security Council for its consideration and appropriate action, including
consideration of referral of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, pursuant to
article 13(b) of the Rome Statute.”