Target:
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon
Region:
Palestinian territories

In an effort to take advantage of the momentum towards accountability that the report of the Fact Finding Mission on Gaza 2009 [Goldstone Report] created in Palestine and the international community, Students at Al-Quds University launched the Accountability Now! Campaign.

The purpose of the campaign is to collect signatures from students around the world on a letter addressed to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, urging him to take action forwarding the recommendations of the Goldstone Report.

The campaign hopes to raise awareness about Gaza, the plight of the Palestinian people, and efforts towards accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine. Additionally, the campaign aims to contribute to efforts around the world to establish an honest rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory [OPT].

A significant step towards accountability for the war on Gaza was taken when the Goldstone Report was adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2009. It is now the time that accountability begin, through compensation for the victims as recommended by the Goldstone Report. Human dignity lies in justice, and accountability is the people's means to establish a world regime of human rights.

[The following Letter can be found in English, Arabic, Turkish, French, and Spanish on our upcoming blog, the web address will be added in the next few days.]


Your Excellency,

The release of the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone report) was an eminent historical turning-point for the struggle of the Palestinian people for the exercise of their right to self-determination and the cessation of the continuing grave and systematic violations of their human rights by the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In light of the Goldstone report’s recommendations, we are writing to strongly urge the imminent implementation of a reconciliation process for the victims of the Gaza conflict and the undertaking of measures to secure the rule of law through accountability by principally commencing a judicial investigation and prosecutions of those responsible for the violations of international law committed during the assault.

The Goldstone report is a lodestar for advancing overall justice and reconciliation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is also a crucial step for the confirmation of the values upheld by the international community; considerations that constitute the most basic principles of humanity. Principally that (1) impunity will not be tolerated; those who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity are to be held accountable regardless of power and nationality; (2) the only way to secure peace in the Middle East is through justice and human rights, not violence and war; and (3) that the voice of the hundreds of innocent civilians that lost their lives, and those who are presently rebuilding their lives, should be heard by the international community.

On 5 November 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution S-12/1, which set a three-month deadline for independent and credible national investigations to be conducted by the parties to the conflict in accordance with the applicable standards of international law. Since, civil society and other local bodies have taken up a monitoring and documenting role to report on the proceeding and results of these investigations of both parties. Since, considerable work has been done amongst local and international civil society to promote and educate on the Report's significance and ensure that the justice and reconciliation process initiated by the report under the auspice of the UN is implemented in accordance with international law.

The information and material that became available recently, in light of the 5 February 2010 deadline accorded by the UN, suggests that the domestic investigations carried out by the parties to the conflict have not met these standards. The Israeli investigation mechanisms are inherently flawed and the report issued by the Israeli government on its investigations indicates the failure of these mechanisms to comply with the standards of international law in the conduct of the investigations. Information available on the investigations carried out by the Palestinian authorities, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, provides no evidence of compliance with required international standards.

We would like to recall and add our voices to Justice Goldstone's words at the presentation of the report at the HRC on 29 September and recall: “This is the time for action. The lack of accountability for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point; the ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence.”

We all carry the responsibility to take action, end injustice, and build peace, and to this end, we strongly urge your Excellency, the UN Secretary General, to take all the necessary measures to ensure that:

1) The long-lasting siege on the people of Gaza, which constitutes collective punishment of the civilian population, is lifted, compensation for the victims is guaranteed, and reconstruction of essential civilian infrastructure commences;

2) All necessary measures are used to hasten the process of accountability and achieve justice for the victims as indicated in the Goldstone Report (including the establishment by the UNGA of a committee of experts to monitor and assess the effectiveness and genuineness of domestic investigations carried out by the parties to the conflict and an escrow fund for Palestinian victims); and

3) Serious follow up measures are taken on the Goldstone report's recommendation to ensure the rule of law and replace the culture of impunity with that of accountability by ensuring that detailed judicial investigations commence in order to bring about prosecutions of those individually responsible for the violations committed.

Yours sincerely,

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