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UN's Gaza Report Favors EU Cases on Geneva Conventions, Sri Lanka Raised, Pascoe Waits

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 15 -- The UN's report on the Gaza conflict, released on Tuesday, notes that the UN "Mission supports the reliance on universal jurisdiction as an avenue for States to investigate violations of grave breach provisions of the Geneva Convention of 1949." It refers to Gaza related cases against Israel pending in the Netherlands and Norway, where an arrest warrant against Ehud Olmert is being sought. Report here, see pages 514-15.

At the news conference announcing the report, Inner City Press asked the Mission's leader, Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, what he thinks of indicting Olmert, and if his investigation identified war crimes by any nationals of a state which is a member of the International Criminal Court, which would give the ICC jurisdiction even absent a referral from the UN Security Council. Video here, from Minute 59:59.

  Goldstone answered that for "grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions," all countries have jurisdiction and even a duty to investigate and apprehend those responsible. He said that all member states of the UN are parties to the Geneva Conventions. While he said that grave breaches of the Conventions are just a "narrow ambit of the matters we reported," one wonders why for example this theory could not be applied to the Sri Lanka conflict which continued to escalate after the "hot" conflict in Gaza ended in January 2009.

UN's Ban and Goldstone, accountability for grave breaches of the Geneva Convention not yet shown

  On September 14, the head of the UN's Department of Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe was asked if the UN Secretariat would support Goldstone's report when it was released. Let's wait and see, Pascoe said. Some concluded that the UN Secretariat would have its finger in the wind, and wait and see whether to support the report based on reactions to it. Now, let's wait and see.

Footnote: Goldstone's press conference was moderated by the UN's Ahmad Fawzi, who took over from the Spokesperson's Office during the conflict between Israel and Lebanon in 2006, and who traveled with Ban Ki-moon to Gaza after the conflict. His presence marked how important the UN Secretariat thought this press conference would be. While it was surely difficult to try to get all questions in, two minutes from the end of the briefing Fawzi loudly claimed he wasn't sure if Inner City Press wanted to ask a question. Video here, from Minute 58:46.

Only after another correspondent ceded his question was the question above permitted to be asked. Meanwhile, Fawzi called on two separate members of the same news organization. Whether this was due to being out of practice in or touch with Room 226 is not known, but may become clear during the upcoming General Assembly and its parade of heads of state. Watch this site.

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In Leak of UN's Gaza Summary to Inner City Press Phosphorous and Violations

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, May 5 -- The UN's report on attacks on its premises in the Gaza Strip, a closely held secret for weeks, has been leaked to Inner City Press, a 27-page summary now placed online here. In a four page cover letter to the Security Council president for May, Russia's Vitaly Churkin, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon states that "as with all UN Boards of Inquiry, the Board's report is an internal document and is not for public release." Then follows a 27-page summary of the report analyzing nine separate incidents between December 27, 2008 and January 19, 2009.

   For example, of the January 17 deaths and injuries at UNRWA's Beit Lahia Elementary School, the summary states that "the Board found that the undisputed cause of the deaths, injuries and damage was the artillery firing by the IDF, specifically, the firing of 155mm M825A1, smoke projectiles, containing white phosphorous impregnated felt wedges."

UN's Ban, Kim Won-soo and Lynn Pascoe in Gaza, binding report not shown

   The summary continues, "The Board concluded that there was a breach of the inviolability of UN premises and a failure to accord the property and assets of the Organization immunity from any interference."

  Reportedly, Ban has since issued a memo that the Report's conclusions are not legally binding, and condemning Hamas' use of rockets. However, the now-leaked summary of the report is sure to give rise to many questions, both in UN Headquarters on Tuesday, in the region and worldwide.

  Inner City Press reported on use of white phosphorous on January 15, click here.

 On January 20, Ban traveled to Gaza and viewed ruins, see above and click here for Inner City Press story.

  On February 9, Ban named as head of the Board of Inquiry Ian Martin, previously the UN's envoy to Nepal. (Click here for Inner City Press story.)

Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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