Presentation of the report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict to the Human Rights Council – 29 September 2009

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.

Mission Members

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).

Mission Commences Work

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]

Field Visits

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’spublic 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.

Public Hearings

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.

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.

The public hearings are webcast by the United Nations and can be viewed by visiting thewebcast archive.

Download the Report