The UN Human Rights Council decided today to establish an independent fact-finding mission to investigate the Israeli boarding of a convoy of ships carrying humanitarian assistance to Gaza. The operation was carried out in international waters during the early hours on Monday this week and led to loss of life. On Monday a UN Security Council presidential statement was issued calling for the incident to be investigated as soon as possible.
“We are pleased that concrete steps are now being taken to establish fact-finding mission to investigate the incident and possible violations of international law. It is important that the commission works closely with the UN Security Council and the Secretary-General in this matter,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
“This is an extraordinary situation that requires coordinated international follow-up. It is important that mission establishes the facts and examines the international law aspects of the boarding. Therefore it is very important that the investigation is coordinated with other UN bodies and that Israel cooperates fully with the commission,” said the Foreign Minister.
The resolution was adopted by a large majority. Only three countries voted against the resolution in the Human Rights Council. Of the nine European members of the Council, Norway and Slovenia voted in favour of the resolution, five EU countries abstained from voting, and Italia and the Netherlands voted against.
The following explanation of vote was delivered by Norway's Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen after the vote:
Human Rights Council 14th session
Item 1. Decisions and conclusions
Action on resolution entitled ""The Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces
Against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy"
2 June 2010
Explanation of vote
Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen
Norway believes the circumstances surrounding the incident of Israel’s boarding of the flotilla carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza and the number of people killed underscores the need for an independent, international investigation.
The Foreign Minister of Norway called for an international investigation already on Monday and requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to ensure that steps are taken as soon as possible to initiate an investigation to determine whether international law has been violated.
Norway strongly believes that the Human Rights Council should act in full coordination with the Security Council, the Secretary General of the UN and other relevant UN-bodies when responding to this incident. On this basis we argued for a decision by this Council to task the Secretary General to take the lead in establishing an international investigation. We regret that this proposal was not reflected in the decision. It is our firm belief that such an approach would have secured a more coherent and coordinated approach by the UN and thus improving the effectiveness of the response.
Still, Norway voted in favor of the draft resolution because we firmly believe that this special and tragic incident should be subject to an independent and international investigation.
We strongly encourage the President of the Council to ensure that the independent international fact finding mission works in close coordination and cooperation with the Secretary General of the UN and the Security Council as well as other relevant bodies of the UN. Further that its composition enables a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation.
We encourage Israel to cooperate fully with the international fact finding mission.