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Former UN chief of rights Navi Pillay will lead the United Nations’ open investigation into “systematic” abuses in Israel and the Palestinian territories, it was announced Thursday.
The chair of the UN Human Rights Council said Pillay would lead a three-man investigation designed to investigate abuses and their “root causes” in the decades-long conflict in the Middle East.
A Commission of Inquiry (COI) is the highest investigation that can be ordered by the municipality.
The investigation was launched at a special council meeting held on May 27 to discuss the increase in deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians earlier this month.
Gaza authorities said 260 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, including several fighters.
In Israel, 13 people, including a soldier, were killed by projectiles fired from Gaza, police and military officials said.
The council has established an ongoing independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate “all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and violations of international human rights” in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.
The commission should investigate “all root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and ongoing conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity”.
Commissioners were tasked with finding out the facts and circumstances surrounding violations and identifying those responsible “to ensure that perpetrators of violations are held accountable”.
While the council has previously ordered eight investigations into human rights violations in the Palestinian territories, this is the first with a mandate to investigate “root causes” and investigate systematic abuses.
The resolution was presented by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. It was passed with 24 of the council’s 47 members in favour.
The COI will report annually to the Human Rights Council from June 2022.
This committee is the first-ever open-ended COI — others, such as the one on Syria, must renew their mandates every year.
Current UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet will provide a verbal update to the council on progress in implementing the resolution in September.
Pillay, the former South African judge, was the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014.
She will be joined by India’s Miloon Kothari, the first UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, and Australian international human rights expert Chris Sidoti.
They travel to the region to meet witnesses and victims.
They will be supported by a secretariat of professional researchers and legal analysts.
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