For Immediate Release
National Lawyers Guild Calls for Urgent Action on Goldstone Recommendations
NEW YORK - The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls on the United States not to block
Security Council action on the Goldstone Report concerning war
crimes and possible crimes against humanity committed in Gaza when it votes in
the UN Security Council.
The Goldstone Report recommends
that the Security Council require the Government of Israel to launch
independent investigations “into the serious violations of international
humanitarian and international human rights law reported by the [Goldstone Fact
[paragraph 1969a]. The Goldstone Report also recommends that the Security
Council "refer the situation in Gaza
to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court" if Israeli
authorities do not initiate "good-faith investigations that are independent
and in conformity with international standards" [paragraph 1969c].
Should the U.S. veto Goldstone's
recommendation to refer the situation in Gaza to the International Criminal
Court, allowing the "culture of impunity" identified by Goldstone to
continue, the National Lawyers Guild urges the General Assembly to itself
implement this and other recommendations of the Goldstone Report.
1. The UN General Assembly can do the equivalent
by establishing an Article 22 tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators. Article
22 of the UN Charter provides, "The General Assembly may establish such
subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its
2. Alternatively, the General
Assembly can facilitate prosecution at the International Criminal Court by
adopting a resolution accepting Palestine as a state for the purpose of ICC jurisdiction in that court, a
suggestion made in a July 22, 2009 New York Times op-ed by
John Dugard, a South African professor of
international law who served as a judge on the International Court of Justice,
as a special rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
for the former UN Commission on Human Rights, and as a member of the UN
International Law Commission.
3. As recommended in the Goldstone Report
[paragraph 1971a], the General Assembly can also take action under Uniting for
Peace Resolution 377, which states that
"if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent
members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of
international peace and security. . . the General Assembly shall consider the
matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members
for collective measures. . . to maintain or restore international peace and
Responding to the U.S. opposition
to the Goldstone Report, Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
stated, "Accountability for breaches
of international humanitarian law and for human rights violations, as well as
respect for human rights, are not obstacles to peace, but rather the
preconditions on which trust and, ultimately, a durable peace can be
The Goldstone Report recognized the ongoing
blockade of Gaza by Israel and noted that "Israeli
incursions and military operations in the Gaza Strip did not stop after the end
of the military operations of December - January." [paragraph 1915] Action
is especially urgent because the blockade and military incursions continue.
NLG President David Gespass said,
"The current U.S. position is incompatible with any standard of justice.
It is incompatible with President Obama's speech to the UN General Assembly on
September 23, 2009, when he said 'The world must stand together. We must
demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise.' The Israeli
officials who planned and committed the war crimes and crimes against humanity
identified by the United Nations Fact Finding Mission remain in power in Israel to this day, they continue the illegal blockade
of Gaza, and they continue planning and
executing military operations there and in the occupied West
Bank. If the U.S. position prevails the culture of impunity will
continue. The U.S. must not be allowed to obstruct justice. If Israel continues
to refuse to launch an independent investigation, and if action by the UN
Security Council is blocked by a U.S. veto, the UN General Assembly should act.
Justice delayed is justice denied."
The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. Through its members--lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers and legal workers united in chapters and committees--the Guild works locally, nationally and internationally as an effective political and social force in the service of the people.