World’s Top Investigators Call for Gaza Inquiry

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(Originally posted on Daily Kos)

The top dogs of international justice and reconciliation today called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN member states to set up a UN commission of inquiry into the Gaza conflict, adding a powerful voice to extend the current insufficient investigation beyond attacks against UN facilities.

The impressive group of signatories surely knows what they are talking about: they are the world’s top investigators and judges, having worked on transitional justice issues in countries like Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leona and South Africa – among others. Signatories include Richard Goldstone, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu.

In their letter they identify a key issue of why a proper investigation is so important, and how it will ultimately help to prevent future violence:

Without setting the record straight in a credible and impartial manner, it will be difficult for those communities that have borne the heavy cost of violence to move beyond the terrible aftermath of conflict and help build a better peace.

A prompt, independent and impartial investigation would provide a public record of gross violations of international humanitarian law committed and provide recommendations on how those responsible for crimes should be held to account. We have seen at first hand the importance of investigating the truth and delivering justice for the victims of conflict and believe it is a precondition to move forward and achieve peace in the Middle East.

Additionally, I want to add one point: in setting the record straight, it will be possible to assign individual responsibility for the crimes committed, as opposed to group responsibility, a further key requirement to prevent further conflict.

If anyone can explain to me why attacks against UN installations, like the UN compound in Gaza City, by Israeli forces are worth investigating, while attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in both Gaza and Southern Israel are ignored – please go ahead. And if you agree with me on the importance of this issue, support the call for full accountability.

PS: Thanks to Crisis Action for initiating this letter!

More on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Reflections on its 60th anniversary by former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, author and former child soldier Ismael Beah, doctor and human rights activist Farai Madzimbamuto, and our own Larry Cox.

And a classic 1988 Amnesty International animated guide to the UDHR — with voice over by Debra Winger and Jeff Bridges, and music by David Byrne (among other ’80s alt-rock luminaries).

Happy Human Rights Day — write a letter and help save a life this week!