Saturday, February 25, 2012

"UN must prosecute Israel for war crimes," says Bloody Sunday lawyer

Israel was the focus of discussions by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) earlier this month.

Israel is obliged to submit a report to the Geneva-based committee on how it has implemented the rights enshrined in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) every two years.

However, Israel waited until this year to submit a series of reports that were formally due in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the convention. ICERD states that that any doctrine of superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and that there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice.

ICERD defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life” (see International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination).

Israel’s presented its last three bi-annual reports in one 183-page volume (see Reports submitted by States parties under article 9 of the Convention17 January 2011).

In addition, Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations submitted shadow reports to inform the committee about the situation, and a designated UN rapporteur for Israel identified a list of themes as guidance for the discussions. After examination of all the reports, the committee will write its concerns and recommendations to Israel in its “concluding observations.”

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine submitted a shadow report about apartheid in Israel in January 2012, and delegated Michael Mansfield — one of its jurors — to address the committee. Mansfield is a well-known, respected attorney from the United Kingdom and is the president of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers. The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhofinterviewed Mansfield in Geneva. More