UN Human Rights Council to send fact-finding mission to occupied Palestinian territory

6 July 2006 – Gravely concerned over the impact of Israel’s current military operations, the new United Nations Human Rights Council today decided to “urgently dispatch” a rights expert to undertake a fact-finding mission on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, as it concluded its first-ever special session in Geneva.

According to the resolution, which was adopted by a vote of 29 in favour to 11 against with 5 abstentions, the Council will send its Special Rapporteur on the situation, John Dugard, to the area, while demanding Israel end its military operations, saying they are having a “detrimental impact” on the “already deteriorating humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian people.”

Speaking in explanation of their votes, many of those who voted against the resolution called the text unbalanced. Vesa Himanen of Finland, for example, speaking on behalf of the European Union, regretted that it did not call for the immediate and unconditional release of the captured Israeli soldier or for the cessation of Qassam rocket fire into Israeli territory.

A Pakistani amendment – which urged “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 – did not go far enough to create such balance, according to some who voted against the resolution.

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