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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cotler: 'Mandates from the Human Rights Council are tainted at the core'

Human Rights lawyer and former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler says that the problem with the committee headed by Christian Tomuschat to 'follow up' on the Goldstone investigation is not Tomuschat, but the UN Human Rights Council's tainted mandates.
Cotler said the issue was not the make-up of the committee, but that “The UN Human Rights Council is itself in need of reform, and instead of setting up more fact-finding missions which have one-sided mandates and are prejudicial, we need to reform the UN Human Rights Council.” Cotler was asked – but refused – to be a member of a Human Rights Council committee that investigated errant IDF shelling in Bet Hanoun that killed 19 Palestinians in 2006.

The Canadian jurist declined to say whether he thought Tomuschat should recuse himself as chairman of the new committee due to his previous writings. “If I say that he should recuse himself, I am saying that I believe that these fact-finding missions under the UN Human Rights Council have validity. I don’t.” The issue, Cotler said, is not the German law professor. “It’s not as if you replace him with someone else and therefore it is better. I know Professor Tomuschat. As far as I know he is a very good international lawyer. But that is not the point. The point is that the mandates from the Human Rights Council, whatever it establishes, are tainted at the core.”


Cotler sidestepped a question about whether he would recommend that Israel cooperate with the Tomuschat committee, saying, “I don’t like to advise Israel. It is a sovereign state that makes its own decisions.” At the same time, he did say he did not believe in “indulging and acquiescing biased bodies, because that has a corruptive effect at the end of the day – not just for the fact-finding mission but for the UN Human Rights Council as a whole.”

If Canada was singled out with 80 percent condemnations by the Human Rights Council, and major human rights violators such as Iran, Sudan and China enjoyed immunity, continued Cotler, “I would say, look guys, there is no reason to acquiesce to this because basically we are validating something that should not be validated.”
It doesn't sound like he sidestepped the question at all, does it? It's obvious that he thinks we should not cooperate with Tomuschat.


At 1:56 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

And Israel isn't going to. Carl - as an attorney yourself, you know this is tainted because Israel was adjudged guilty in advance of the investigation and the panel's work is meant to establish that guilt. That is the exact opposite of normal proceedings in a court of law which begin with the presumption of innocence. Ironically, in its mandate to get Israel condemned, the UN Human Rights Council trampled underfoot that principle.


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