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The Goldstone Report Controversy: Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in the Gaza Conflict

A presentation by Sarah Leah Whitson (Director, Middle East and North Africa Division Human Rights Watch).

Monday, November 16, 2009
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
UCLA Law School
Room 1447
Los Angeles, CA 90095

The United Nations Human Rights Council appointed a fact-finding  mission to investigate violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all parties during the recent Gaza conflict (December 27, 2008-January 19, 2009).  The mission ­ headed by the respected South African international law expert, Richard Goldstone produced a 575 page document, known as the “Goldstone Report,” based on interviews with witnesses on all sides, public hearings, and review of over 10,000 pages of documents, 30 videos and 1200 photographs documenting the conflict. The report concluded that both Israel and Palestinian armed groups perpetrated war crimes and other serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The report also recommended that Israel and the Palestinian government in Gaza conduct credible internal investigations to hold responsible parties accountable, failing which the international community should take action to ensure accountability.

The report was met with immediate controversy, with Israel and the United States opposing its adoption by the Human Rights Council (HRC), on the grounds, inter alia, that it would detract from efforts to relaunch a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. The debate in the HRC, discussions in the United Nations General Assembly and the possibility of a Security Council referral offer a novel context to consider the influence of international human rights and humanitarian law.  Human Rights Watch, one of the leading American human rights organizations, has followed this controversy closely, and in this talk Sarah Leah Whitson will provide a behind-the-scenes account of the reception of the Goldstone Report and what it signifies for ongoing efforts to end impunity in cases of serious human rights violations and war crimes.

Sarah Leah Whitson is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. She has led landmark investigations of human rights conditions in Libya and Saudi Arabia and numerous advocacy missions in the region, and overseen over 20 research missions. She has also published articles on the Middle East in international and regional publications. Prior to joining HRW, Ms. Whitson worked as an attorney in New York for Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.  She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law School.


Cost : Free and open to the public.

Amy Bruinooge, Center for Near Eastern Studies
(310) 825-1455
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