The Human Rights Council on 12 January 2009 created the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict by resolution S-9 to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip. The Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict presented its final report at the 12th Human Rights Council session (September 2009).
The Mission convened for the first time on 4 May in Geneva. During the course of that week, the four Members of the Mission held meetings with a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including UN Member States, non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies and bodies. The Mission also agreed on its methodology and established its programme of work. The Mission is required to submit its report within three months. [See press release of 8 May 2009]
The Mission worked on the basis of international human rights and humanitarian law and international investigative standards developed by the United Nations.
The Mission reviewed reports produced by various organizations and institutions as well as submissions on matters of fact and law relevant to its inquiry. A notice has been issued to call for submissions (see above). The Mission consulted with a wide range of interlocutors including victims and witnesses, Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs, United Nations and other international organizations, community organizations, human rights defenders, medical and other professionals, legal and military experts, authorities and other sources of reliable information relevant to its mandate, within and outside Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The Mission also held public hearings on particular issues of concern related to its mandate.
Information-gathering methods included the analysis of video and photographic images, including satellite imagery: Satellite image analysis in support to the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.
The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict is pleased to invite all interested persons and organizations to submit relevant information and documentation that will assist in the implementation of the Mission's mandate. Submissions should focus on events and conduct that occurred in the context of the armed conflict that took place between 27 December 2008 and 19 January 2009. The Mission considers that, for the purposes of its mandate, events since June 2008 are particularly relevant to the conflict. More details are available in the Mission’s Call for Submissions.
In the course of its work, the Mission Members have conducted two visits to Gaza. Despite requests for the cooperation of the Government of Israel, the Mission has been refused access to Israel and the West Bank. The Mission has entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
The first field visit by the Mission Members was conducted to the Gaza Strip from 1-5 June 2009, during which they held meetings, conducted interviews with victims and witnesses and visited the sites of incidents. [See press release, summary of press conference in Gaza City and statement by the President of the Human Rights Council]. The Members of the Mission were in Gaza again from 26 June to 1 July, during which time they continued their investigations and held the Mission’s public hearings. Mission staff maintained a presence in Gaza until early July.
Members of the Mission also traveled to Amman, Jordan, from 1 to 4 July to interview witnesses and meet with people and organizations from Israel and the West Bank.
More details are available in the Mission’s Public Advance Notice.
As part of its investigation process, the Mission held two sets of public hearings, in Gaza City and in Geneva, during which nearly 40 witnesses, victims and experts gave testimony. The aim of holding the hearings publicly was to give a voice to those who had direct experiences and expertise related to the mandate of the Mission.
The public hearings in Gaza included victims and experts from Gaza and took place on Sunday 28 and Monday 29 June 2009. [See press releases of 25 June and 29 June 2009.]
Those in Geneva included victims and experts from Israel and the West Bank, as well as military and legal experts, and were held on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 July, 2009. [See press release of 7 July and summary of 7 July press conference 2009]The public hearings are webcast by the United Nations and can be viewed by visiting the webcast archive.
Transcripts of the Public Hearings
On 3 April 2009, the President of the Human Rights Council established an international independent Fact Finding Mission with the mandate “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.” [See press release of 3 April 2009 and transcript of press briefing]
The appointment of the mission followed the adoption on 12 January 2009 of resolution S-9/1 by the United Nations Human Rights Council at the end of its 9th Special Session.
The Mission is headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, former member of the South African Constitutional Court and former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
The three other mission members are:
Professor Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, who was a member of the High Level Fact Finding Mission to Beit Hanoun (2008);
Ms. Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders, who was a member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur (2004);
and Colonel Desmond Travers, a former officer in the Irish Armed Forces and member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI).
As is usual practice, the Mission is supported by a Secretariat provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Bios for mission members
Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza ConflictEnglish Français русский Español العربية 中文
Executive summary (Advance 1)English Français русский Español العربية 中文
Conclusions and recommendations (Advance 2)English Français русский Español العربية 中文
Press release on presentation of report to the Human Rights CouncilEnglish | Arabic | Hebrew
Members of the Fact Finding Mission gave a press conference on 29 September 2009 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. For a webcast of the press conference click here. (57 minutes)
A transcript of the press conference is also available
UN Fact Finding Mission finds strong evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Gaza conflict; calls for end to impunity: Press release 15 September 2009English | Arabic | Hebrew
Media summary of Report - EnglishEnglish | Arabic | Hebrew
Head of the UN Fact Finding Mission Justice Richard Goldstone presented the report of the Mission to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 29 September 2009, urging the Council and the international community as a whole to put an end to impunity for violations of international law in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.Full text of statement by Justice Richard Goldstone on behalf of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, delivered to the Human Rights Council, 29 September 2009
Webcasts are available of the Human Rights Council. For the presentation of the report of the Fact Finding Mission and the interactive dialogue following it, see: http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=090929.
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