21st special session of the Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council held its 21st special session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, on 23 July 2014 in Geneva. The main purpose of the session was to address the on-going conflict taking place in Gaza.
The Council adopted a resolution that established an independent and international Commission of Inquiry to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged international law violations committed during this conflict, and to identify those responsible. The Commission was also asked to make concrete recommendations on ways and means to protect civilians against any further assaults.
Iceland delivered a statement condemning any violations of humanitarian law being committed both sides and calling for an immediate ceasefire. It praised the efforts of relief organs such as UNICEF and UNRWA, which the Government will support with an additional financial contribution of 100.000 USD. Finally, the statement called for a more active involvement of the UN Security Council in order to ensure the protection of innocent civilians and to lead the way towards the end of the Israeli occupation and peaceful settlement.
Below you can find the Icelandic statement and the resolution as adopted.
Special session of the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, on Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Statement by Mr. Thordur Sigtryggsson
Yet again we find ourselves discussing the situation in the OPT, the focus today being on Gaza. And yet again, we need to focus on Palestinian civilians, innocent women and children, who suffer most. More than 600 lives have already been lost in this latest round of bloodshed.
We strongly condemn the violations of international humanitarian law by both sides. We call on Israel, as the occupying power, to cease all military operations in Gaza without delay and to comply strictly with its obligations under international law. As the occupying power, Israel bears great responsibility for protecting civilians in the Occupied Territories. The IDF’s air and ground assault raises serious concerns about respect for the principle of distinction, proportionality and precaution under international law.
We also condemn the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and other militant groups. The targeting and terrorising of civilians is a clear violation of international law and should be denounced as such. The attacks on Israel must stop without delay.
There is an urgent need for a ceasefire. We commend the Secretary General for going to the region. We strongly encourage him to continue being personally engaged and make full use of his good offices to find a durable solution to the conflict.
We also applaud the heroic efforts of relief bodies such as UNICEF and UNRWA, which continue to provide life-saving services to the Palestinians of Gaza under difficult circumstances and chronic financial shortfalls. My Government recently pledged an additional 100.000 USD to support their work.
The civilian populations of both Israel and Gaza have experienced too much suffering for far too long in a climate of impunity. Iceland supports calls for an impartial investigation into the violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed by both sides. We call on both parties to fully cooperate with such an investigation and allow full access. This Council must send a clear message that it will not allow further violations of international humanitarian law to go unreported and unpunished.
The on-going conflict, as well as the occupation, represents a failure by the international community to bring about the change the Palestinian and Israeli people deserve. The Security Council needs to become actively engaged to ensure the protection of innocent civilians; to lead the way towards the end of the occupation and peaceful settlement. The alternative is more of the same – and that is not acceptable.
Thank you Mr President.