SECOND SPECIAL SESSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DECIDES TO ESTABLISH HIGH-LEVEL INQUIRY COMMISSION FOR LEBANON

Human Rights Council


11 August 2006

Council Strongly Condemns Grave Israeli Violations of Human Rights in Lebanon

The second special session of the Human Rights Council today strongly condemned the grave Israeli violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law in Lebanon and decided to urgently establish and immediately dispatch a high-level inquiry commission to the region.

In a resolution, adopted after a roll-call vote of 27 in favour, 11 against, and 8 abstentions, the Council said the high-level commission should comprise of eminent experts of human rights law and international humanitarian law who should, among other things: investigate the systematic targeting and killings of civilians by Israel; examine the types of weapons used by Israel and their conformity with international law; and assess the extent and deadly impact of Israeli attacks on human life, property, critical infrastructure and environment. The Council requested the commission to report back to it no later than 1 September 2006 on progress towards the fulfilment of its mandate.

The Council urged all concerned parties to respect the rules of international humanitarian law, to refrain from violence against the civilian population and to treat under all circumstances all detained combatants and civilians in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. It also called on the international community to provide urgently the Lebanese Government with humanitarian and financial assistance to enable it to deal with the worsening humanitarian disaster, rehabilitation of victims, return of displaced persons, and restoration of the essential infrastructure.

At the beginning of the one-day special session, Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the accumulated and increasing toll of civilian deaths and injuries in Lebanon and Israel, the massive displacement of populations and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Lebanon required the intervention of the Council to impress upon the parties to the conflict the urgent need to comply with their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.

Ms. Arbour said there had been pressing calls for a comprehensive, high-level inquiry into reports of serious violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law in Israel and Lebanon to be led by internationally renowned experts. Within a human rights framework, the inquiry should be primarily concerned with the plight of the victims. It should address all violations by all parties, and lay the foundation for possible measures of reparation and accountability. The Council’s commitment to exposing all human rights violations and to addressing the calls of all victims for reparation and justice would help those affected by the conflict to start rebuilding their shattered lives.

Lebanon told the meeting that the Government of Lebanon did it endorse the operations carried out by Hezbollah. What was being faced by Lebanon went beyond the issue of prisoners and captured soldiers: it was a whole nation whose people’s rights, security and land were being trampled under a questionable pretext. Lebanese were being collectively slaughtered and punished by Israel.

Israel told the special session that after a month of pain and suffering on both sides of the border between Israel and Lebanon, the Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference had asked to convene the special session of the Council to deal exclusively with the suffering on only one side of the divide. But the suffering knew no boundaries. And the peoples of Lebanon and Israel together were paying the price of the vicious campaign of terror waged by Hezbollah.

Speakers addressing the meeting said that the death and displacement in Lebanon as a result of the Israeli bombardment was appalling. The massive Israeli air strikes that had resulted in massacres of innocent civilians and the destruction of houses, properties and infrastructure were strongly condemned, and there were repeated calls for a ceasefire and a rapid resolution of the conflict.
Many speakers urged the Council to establish an inquiry commission with the mandate to investigate the extent and adverse impact of the breaches of human rights and international humanitarian law. There were also calls for unhindered access to be provided to humanitarian and medical convoys and for the establishment of humanitarian corridors. Some speakers condemned civilian casualties in Israel as a result of Hezbollah-launched rockets and accused the Council of targeting Israel.

Representatives of the following States and entities took the floor: Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Tunisia on behalf of the Arab Group, Algeria on behalf of the African Group, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Brazil, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Indonesia, Morocco, Malaysia, Switzerland, Canada, Philippines, Algeria, Zambia, Mali, Jordan, Senegal, Cuba, Finland on behalf of the European Union, China, Uruguay, Ecuador, India, Russian Federation, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Australia, Kuwait, Qatar, Libya, Sudan, Iran, New Zealand, Palestine, Chile, Syria, Venezuela, United States, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Mauritania, Holy See, League of Arab States, Norway, Colombia, and Armenia.

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, World Jewish Congress, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation of Human Rights, B’nai B’rith, Habitat International, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Franciscans International, Pax Romana, World Organization against Torture, World Union of Progressive Judaism, India Movement Tupaj Amaru on behalf of World Peace Council, and UN Watch.

Lebanon and Syria exercised their right of reply.

The following States spoke in explanations of the vote before and after the vote: Israel, Lebanon, Canada, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Finland on behalf of the European Union, India, Russian Federation, Philippines, Guatemala, Peru on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Uruguay, Japan, France, Cameroon, Mexico and Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Resolution

In a resolution (A/HRC/S-2/L.1), entitled the grave situation of human rights in Lebanon caused by Israeli military operations, adopted as orally revised after a roll-call vote of 27 in favour, 11 against, and 8 abstentions, the Human Rights Council, among other things, strongly condemns the grave Israeli violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law in Lebanon; also condemns massive bombardments of Lebanese civilian populations, especially the massacres in Qana, Marwaheen, Al Duweir, Al Bayadah, Al Qaa, Chiyah, Ghazieh and other towns of Lebanon and the displacement of one million civilians; further condemns the Israeli bombardment of vital civilian infrastructure resulting in extensive destruction and heavy damage to public and private properties; further condemns the Israeli bombardment of vital civilian infrastructure; calls upon Israel to observe the principle of proportionality and refrain from launching any attack that may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life; calls upon Israel to abide immediately and scrupulously by its obligations under human rights law, in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and urges all concerned parties to respect the rules of international humanitarian law, to refrain from violence against the civilian population and to treat under all circumstances all detained combatants and civilians in accordance with the Geneva Conventions; and calls upon Israel to immediately stop military operations against the civilian population and civilian objects resulting in death and destruction and serious violations of human rights.

The Council also decides to urgently establish and immediately dispatch a high-level inquiry commission comprising eminent experts of human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the possibility of inviting the relevant special procedures to be nominated to the commission to, among other things: investigate the systematic targeting and killings of civilians by Israel; examine the types of weapons used by Israel and their conformity with international law; and assess the extent and deadly impact of Israeli attacks on human life, property, critical infrastructure and environment; also requests the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all administrative, technical and logistical assistance required to enable the Commission to fulfil its mandate promptly and efficiently; calls on the international community to provide urgently the Lebanese Government with humanitarian and financial assistance to enable it to deal with the worsening humanitarian disaster, rehabilitation of victims, return of displaced persons, and restoration of the essential infrastructure; and requests the Commission to report to the Council no later than 1 September 2006 on progress towards the fulfilment of its mandate.



The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (27):Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay, and Zambia.

Against (11):Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, United Kingdom, and Ukraine.

Abstentions (8):Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Nigeria, Philippines, Republic of Korea, and Switzerland.


Statements

LOUISE ARBOUR, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the accumulated and increasing toll of civilian deaths and injuries in Lebanon and Israel, the massive displacement of populations and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Lebanon required the intervention of the Council to impress upon the parties to the conflict the urgent need to comply with their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. Nearly a month from its beginning and worsening by the day, the crisis demanded a firm and meaningful response which should meet the requirements of the high mandate bestowed upon the Council and the hopes of the people whose protection depended on its deliberations. It was imperative that the international community devote all its efforts to an immediate cessation of the hostilities, to save lives, and ensure justice for the victims and accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

All belligerents should be reminded that war crimes and crimes against humanity might be committed even by those who believed, accurately or not, that their combat was a just one and their cause a worthy pursuit. Yet, almost on a daily basis, information from the field indicated an alarming pattern in the scale and choice of targets by all sides in the conflict. The deaths of hundreds of civilians in documented and corroborated incidents, involving either random or targeted attacks on civilian vehicles or buildings, strongly suggested the indiscriminate use of force. On 30 July, the world was shocked by the Israeli attack on the residential building in Qana that killed scores of civilians, including a large number of children, who had sought shelter there. Hundreds of people had died in Lebanon, while the survivors had endured and continued to endure large-scale destruction of critical infrastructure and utter devastation. But, to date, Israeli attacks affecting civilians continued unabated. Also unrelenting was Hezbollah’s indiscriminate shelling of densely populated centres in northern Israel, which had brought death and destruction. There had also been repeated allegations of Hezbolla’s systematic use of civilians as human shields.

There had been pressing calls for a comprehensive, high-level inquiry into reports of serious violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law in Israel and Lebanon to be led by internationally renowned experts. The independence, impartiality and objectively of such an inquiry should be guaranteed not only by the credibility of the panel members, but also by the scope and methodology of their mandate. Within a human rights framework, the inquiry should be primary concerned with the plight of the victims. It should address all violations by all parties, and lay the foundation for possible measures of reparation and accountability. The Council’s commitment to exposing all human rights violations and to addressing the calls of all victims for reparation and justice would help those affected by the conflict to start rebuilding their shattered lives.
MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan), on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference(OIC), said this session had been convened because of the Human Rights Council’s obligations. The situation in Lebanon was appalling, and death and displacement stalked the country. Critical infrastructure in Lebanon had been destroyed or disabled. Roads, bridges, ports, factories, power plants were in ruins, the harvest was lost, and a blockade had been imposed by Israel on Lebanon. The OIC leaders strongly condemned Israeli attacks and the massive air strikes that had resulted in massacres of innocent civilians and the destruction of houses, properties and infrastructure, as these acts violated the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law, international humanitarian law, and constituted flagrant human rights violations.
While a human rights crises exploded every day before all eyes, the Human Rights Council could not choose to be in a state of paralysis. It was important for its own credibility that it send a loud and clear message that Israeli human rights violations in Lebanon should end. The Council had to make a moral choice between humanity and inhumanity; between law and defiance of law; between caring for human life and acquiescing in its destruction. It should not be a balancing act guided by political interests and compulsions. The killings could not be embellished by the doctrines of just wars or disproportionate force or collective punishment. War had to end; Israeli military operations should end; and human rights violations should end. While this session was focussed on Lebanon, the human rights and humanitarian disaster in Palestine had become worse. The Council should condemn the gross and systematic Israeli human rights violations and establish an inquiry commission with the mandate to investigate the extent and adverse impact of the breaches of human rights and international humanitarian law. There should be unhindered access to humanitarian and medical convoys and the establishment of humanitarian corridors.

SAMIR LABIDI (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the worsening of the situation in Lebanon and the continued incursion of the Israeli aggression required the attention of the international community. In terms of human lives, the Israeli violations had been causing grave losses. The aggression not only killed human beings but was also destroying infrastructure. Civilians had been seriously affected by the Israeli aggression, which was escalating on a daily basis. Hospitals and other civilian safe areas had been largely affected by the Israeli attacks. So far, about one thousand people had been killed, while thousands of civilians had been wounded. Israel was in fact committing war crimes.
Due to the Israeli bombardment, the number of civilian incidents was increasing every day. The bombs used by the Israeli army should also be of concern because of their impact on the civilian population. The Israeli bombing had been targeting civilians and civilian facilities, including the destruction of key infrastructure such as roads and bridges. All, particularly the special session of the Council, should condemn the daily aggression of the Israeli army against Lebanon. The Council should adopt a resolution by consensus.

MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the African Group had been following with deep concern the situation in the Middle East. It firmly condemned the military operations undertaken by Israel in Lebanon and Palestine, which were massive and flagrant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Some major United Nations bodies had already underscored the tragic situation existing today in Lebanon. International law was quite clear on the supreme obligation to protect civilians during hostilities. Several reliable and consistent sources of information suggested that the civilian community was increasingly being denied access to basic services, and the elementary rights to life, health and food were being violated or threatened.

The African Group was gravely concerned, and appealed for everything to be put in place to provide restriction-free access to humanitarian assistance. It was shocking to note that human rights were being systematically violated in Palestine and Lebanon, and by an army acting in the name of one of the Member States of the United Nations. The donor community should respond massively and generously to the appeal launched by the democratically-elected Lebanese Government, to relieve the sufferings of a population which was suffering, without forgetting the Palestinian people, which was also suffering. It was urgent for the Human Rights Council to send a fact-finding mission to Lebanon. This was even more urgent as all human rights mechanisms had indicated their grave concern with regards to the massive and flagrant human rights violations taking place in Lebanon and Palestine.

MOHAMMED AL-AGALI (Saudi Arabia) said the delegation of Saudi Arabia believed that the session’s deliberations should focus on the imperative need to prevent further suffering to the civilian population by ensuring respect for their human rights in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, human rights instruments and international humanitarian law and to dispatch urgently a high-level commission of inquiry to investigate the targeting of civilians in Lebanon, examine the legality of the types of weapons used by Israel and assess the human and material damages caused by Israeli violations of international humanitarian law. Saudi Arabia supported the draft resolution on the grave situation of human rights in Lebanon, caused by Israeli military operations. It urged the Council to transmit an urgent appeal calling upon the Security Council to rapidly adopt a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire.

ALBERTO J. DUMONT (Argentina) said the deterioration in the Middle East over the month since the last special session was very grave. Argentina was deeply concerned at the critical humanitarian situation that the civilian population was suffering from. There should be an immediate cease-fire, and a dialogue between the parties. The firing of rockets by Hezbollah and the excessive use of force by Israel were deplored. The loss of human life and the suffering of civilians were all condemned on both sides. The humanitarian access to areas was vital to prevent a catastrophe. The attack on basic infrastructure in Lebanon was a collective punishment, impeding the enjoyment of all human rights in the country. The attack on Qana showed how the conflict was indiscriminate.

In principle, Argentina could not condone violence as a tool to attain objectives, as it would only add obstacles to a peaceful solution. The solutions proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General and other international actors should be followed in order to stop the situation from worsening. All diplomatic measures should be taken to contribute to the establishment of peace and security in the Middle East, which could only be achieved if both sides met in respect of each other’s existence and cultural traditions. The respect of international humanitarian law by all was vital for any lasting solution of the conflict.

CLODOALDO HUGUENEY (Brazil) said that it was with deep sorrow and grave concern that Brazil was witnessing, once more, the escalation of violence and the spiralling and unchecked use of force in the Middle East. Brazil was deeply concerned with the blatant violations of international humanitarian law for which the civilian population on both sides of the border had borne the brunt. The escalation of the Lebanese conflict was deeply felt by the people and Government of Brazil. At least seven Brazilian nationals, three of them small children, had perished because of air raids against the cities of Srifa and Tallousa. Brazil strongly condemned those actions and also expressed its opposition to retaliations, which deteriorated even further the fragile situation in the region. One could not accept the loss of innocent civilian lives. Brazil called on the parties to immediately observe their obligations under international humanitarian law and to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to civilians and ensure their unhindered and safe passage from areas of military operations.

TOUFIQ ALI (Bangladesh) said Bangladesh was appalled and outraged at the Israeli atrocities in Lebanon. The situation was very grave and was deteriorating every day with more deaths, more destruction. This brutal and disproportionate use of force was a flagrant violation of human rights, and international humanitarian laws. It should stop immediately. It was difficult to believe that in the twenty-first century that mankind could allow such atrocities to be perpetrated. The international community, including the United Nations Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Rapporteurs, the Chairman of the Sub-Commission, all had expressed their grave concern. The killing of four United Nations Peacekeepers in Lebanon established how little respect Israel had for international norms and civility.

Indiscriminate shelling of cities constituted a foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians. Bombardment resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians was unjustifiable. The situation was alarming, and victims were in desperate need of food, shelter and medical assistance. It was imperative for the Council to take a clear and unequivocal stand on the flagrant defiance of international law and the violation of fundamental human rights by Israel. The adoption of the resolution on the table would be a first step in this direction, and it should be adopted by the broadest consensus.

ABDULLA ABDULLATIF ABDULLA (Bahrain) said that one month had passed since Israel had begun aggressing Lebanon in attacks in which thousands of people had been killed and wounded. The massive bombing had resulted in serious damages in terms of human lives and infrastructure. The Council should adopt a resolution calling on Israel to stop its violations against Lebanon. It was imperative that Israel should shoulder its responsibility for the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure. The Israeli military aggression was mainly targeting civilians. The escalation of the conflict had inflected unnecessary suffering on the civilian population. The types of weapons used by Israel should be investigated. The Council should also urge the Security Council to adopt a resolution calling for the immediate cessation of its attacks against Lebanon.

MAKERIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) said it was high time to convene this special session in order to address the grave human rights and humanitarian crisis in Lebanon in the face of the relentless bombing of that country by Israel over the last four weeks and its subsequent invasion by that country’s army. This aggression not only blatantly violated the territorial integrity of a neighbour country, it also showed a ruthless contempt for the lives and fundamental human rights of an innocent civilian population, including women and children. The systematic and lethal nature of the strikes against civilian targets were a flagrant breach of all the international human rights and humanitarian instruments.

Indonesia condemned the armed aggression and grave breaches of the international human rights and humanitarian conventions. The situation was extreme and the violations were grave, and it was a human rights emergency that clearly warranted the immediate attention of the Human Rights Council. The events unfolding in the area were extremely disturbing. The Human Rights Council should urgently dispatch a high-level investigation team to the area to investigate the circumstances of the targeting of civilians in Lebanon in all their relevant dimensions, including through the documentation of human and material damage. There should be an immediate deployment of a United Nations-led international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, and the withdrawal of the Israeli army behind the blue line and the return of the displaced should accompany this. The United Nations, including the Human Rights Council, should assume its rightful role and spearhead a vigorous and global effort to resolve the crisis.

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) said that the international community should shoulder its responsibility vis-à-vis the Middle East conflict. The Israeli aggression had damaged the human rights of the Lebanese people. Besides the death of many Lebanese, including children and women, the vast majority of infrastructure, including roads, bridges and other public utilities, had been damaged by the Israeli military machine. Nothing was stopping Israel, even international law, from destroying Lebanon. The Geneva Conventions on the protection of civilian populations and other international laws were being defied by Israel. The Council should adopt a strongly worded resolution calling on Israel to cease its aggression against Lebanon. A commission of inquiry should also be sent on the ground to assess the extent of the damage caused by Israel.

HSU KING BEE (Malaysia) said as one of the States that joined the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other concerned countries in requesting the immediate convening of the special session of the Human Rights Council, Malaysia underlined the expectations of the international community, especially the victims of human rights violations, that the Council should live up to its mandate in addressing situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon. International condemnation and numerous calls for an immediate end to the disproportionate and callous military force unleashed unto Lebanon and its people had been ignored and forcefully rejected. Instead, there was daily increase in human misery. Larger and larger parts of Lebanon were being rampantly destroyed.

Gross and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by Israel in Lebanon had thus continued unabated, with no sign of their end. On the contrary, the situation was rapidly deteriorating, as the aggressor was intent on expanding its military offensive. This was yet another testimony to the brutality of a State which remained blind to even the most basic principles of human rights, including the right to life, food, shelter and health as well as humanitarian laws, including those of the Geneva Conventions. The excessive and disproportionate use of force against Lebanon could not be justified on any grounds. The international community, in particular members of the Council, had the duty and moral responsibility to ensure Israel was held accountable, and not allowed to continue to get away with impunity with regard to the atrocities committed. It was incumbent upon the Human Rights Council to make clear and unequivocal pronouncement on this unacceptable situation, and to condemn the grave violation of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law.

BLAISE GODET (Switzerland) said that in view of the dramatic evolution, which had been developing in the Middle East, and more particularly in Lebanon since 12 July, Switzerland estimated that it was important that the Council endeavour to prevent and put an end to the grave human rights violations that were taking place each day. Switzerland condemned all acts of violence and provocation, and the attack of Hezbollah against an Israeli patrol on 12 July was part of such acts. Israel had the right to protect its territory and its population from such acts committed by Hezbollah. However, the reaction of the Israeli military against Lebanon was disproportionate.

The current military operation that blockaded Lebanon’s air, land and naval communication, and the systematic destruction of other communications and civilian infrastructure had caused immense damage. As a result, the number of civilians killed had been increasing; and people were being hampered from moving from one place to another because of the damage caused by the transportation facilities. The repeated attacks on civilian targets were a grave violation of international humanitarian law.

PAUL MEYER (Canada) said it was hoped that the Security Council would soon take action that would lead to a sustainable resolution of the crisis, and the restoration of international peace and security in fulfilment of that body’s role and responsibilities. The far-reaching impact of this conflict on civilians in both Israel and Lebanon was of great concern for Canada. There was concern for the loss of civilian lives; the displacement of individuals and communities; the destruction of civilian infrastructure; the social and economic impact of ongoing hostilities; and the implications of this conflict on longer-term peace and security in the region. This was a conflict caused by Hezbollah, and its State sponsors that had resulted in widespread death and devastation.

As the United Nations’ principal body responsible for human rights, this was an opportunity for the Human Rights Council to focus specifically on the human rights concerns emanating from the conflict, reflecting its mandate and its competence. The armed conflict that was occurring in Israel and Lebanon had resulted in actions that were contrary to international humanitarian law and these should be pursued in other appropriate contexts by the international community. The Council should be used for constructive, not divisive ends. The body’s procedures and output should respect the principles upon which it was founded. Rather than fall back into non-productive habits, it should work to ensure universality, objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues, and to eliminate double standards and politicisation. Unfortunately, neither the session nor the resolution presented took into consideration the respective roles and responsibilities of all parties, and thus it was not constructive in promoting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all in the region, the rule of law, and the widely-agreed goal of securing long-term peace and stability in the Middle East. Canada was committed to these goals and would oppose the resolution therefore.

ENRIQUE MANALO (Philippines) said the Philippines was gravely concerned over the deteriorating situation and the escalation of violence in Lebanon, particularly the loss of innocent civilian lives and the rising number of civilian victims, including migrant workers from several countries. All parties should be urged to exercise restraint and to respect international human rights crisis. Humanitarian assistance to the victims should be immediately provided. The Philippines supported the immediate ceasefire and supported efforts of the international community, in particular the Security Council, to help steer relevant parties towards adhering to a ceasefire under UN supervision, with the ultimate goal of working towards a comprehensive and lasting peace in the region based on peaceful dialogue and negotiation. The Philippines joined the call of the international community for parties to respect and ensure the safe passage of all foreign nationals evacuating from Lebanon.

MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) said Algeria vigorously condemned the scandalous violations of human rights which the Israeli State was undertaking with impunity against the civilian population of Lebanon, as well as the violations which it had not ceased against the Palestinian civilian population. If the international community was serious about upholding human rights in the civilised world, of which the creation of the Human Rights Council should be the glowing proof, then it should condemn these violations perpetrated by a State against the civilian population of a neighbouring country.

The Israeli attacks had targeted and continued to target civilian populations, including civilians fleeing the bombardments. Israeli military forces had blocked humanitarian aid, including for those buried in rubble, and the provision of fuel required for the functioning of hospitals. If the international community did not consider these war crimes as human rights violations, then it was using human rights for political ends. The draft resolution should be adopted by consensus, as it would be impossible for those who voted against it to justify in the future any intervention in other countries in the name of human rights violations.

LOVE MTESA (Zambia) said that it was time to put an end to the killing of innocent people and the indiscriminate destruction of infrastructure, including roads and bridges, regardless of the cause or circumstances that led to the conflict. Civilians, both in Lebanon and Israel, did not deserve to die the way that they were dying. Even soldiers, on both sides, did not deserve to die the way that they were dying. The duty of soldiers was to safeguard the territorial integrity of their respective countries and not to go beyond unless they were specifically invited to do so for a specific purpose. The international community had not reacted to this crisis in good time, hence its escalation to the present level. It was important that a ceasefire come into effect immediately in order to save lives and to bring back hope to the people in both Lebanon and Israel who felt let down in different ways by the international community and in particular by the Security Council.

SEKOU KASSE (Mali) said Mali had approved the holding of a special session, and was following with grave preoccupation the tragic events which had been taking place for the last month in Lebanon. These events were, without doubt, grave and massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

In this context, all members of the international community should do all possible to respond quickly and en masse to the appeal launched by the Government of Lebanon to ease the sufferings inflicted on its population. There should also be a lift of the blockade imposed on Lebanon in order to allow the humanitarian agencies and the donor community to bring in aid and humanitarian assistance to the populations deprived of their essential rights. Mali condemned the grave human rights violations perpetrated in Lebanon, and upheld the idea of rapidly sending a fact-finding mission to the country.

HUSSAN AL HUSSEINI (Jordan) said the targeting and killing of civilians, the destruction of infrastructure and properties, the mass displacement of people, and the extensive damage to the environment were unlawful acts that should not be condoned. The magnitude of the Israeli bombardment and destruction had exceeded every limit and should immediately come to an end. The tragedy that was unfolding in Lebanon was unacceptable. It was tantamount to a war crime. The international community, represented by the Council, should reject it and redress the victims promptly. The international community propelled and motivated by the need to protect the civilian people in all times, but in particular during military conflagrations, had articulated elaborate and viable international humanitarian laws which were the sine qua non of the work of the Council. The Council should not only condemn those heinous acts in the strongest possible terms but should also redress them adequately.

OUSMANE KAMARA (Senegal) said for many weeks, Israeli military operations in Lebanon had provoked indignation throughout the world, due to serious violations of the basic rights including to life, health and freedom of the civilian population in Lebanon. The systematic and deliberate destruction of vital infrastructure had prevented the delivery of humanitarian assistance and led to serious and incalculable results on the Lebanese people. Violence was growing and expanding. The Senegalese Government had appealed for an immediate cease-fire, and the President had called for a special session of the Security Council. Intense diplomatic efforts were underway to find a solution, but the situation was worsening with increased Israeli strikes in violation of the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law.

The Human Rights Council was acting fully in conformity with its mandate to note gross and systematic violations of human rights, and to act in response to emergency situations. There was unfailing solidarity with the people of Lebanon and Palestine, who were also experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. It was important to save human lives - people had already been severely hurt, and there should be an immediate cessation of Israeli attacks on the civilian population in Lebanon.

JORGE FERRER (Cuba) said Cuba supported the convening of the special session of the Council. Cuba had witnessed the ruthless aggression by Israel that was destroying the naval, road and air communication of Lebanon. So far more than 800 civilians had been killed while thousands were wounded. The genocidal policy of Israel had been clearly manifested through its violation of human rights of the Lebanese people. The regime in Tel Aviv was continuing its aggression by inflicting heavy damage against the civilian lives and the infrastructure. The Israeli attack on Qana on 30 July had killed 60 civilians, including 34 children. The systematic destruction of the civilian and vital infrastructure in the Bekaa Valley and other areas was unacceptable. The regime, which was protected by the United States, had been acting in defiance of the international humanitarian law. The Israeli military had also continued its aggression against the Palestinian people. The international community should condemn the acts perpetrated by Israel and call for the immediate cessation of the attacks.

VESA HIMANEN (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union emphasised the respect for the human rights of all individuals, and this respect was an essential basis for a durable democracy and was a key element for consolidating peaceful coexistence among peoples. The Human Rights Council was responsible for promoting universal respect for the human rights of all in a fair and equal manner. The European Union was very concerned about the situation in Lebanon, including the suffering of civilians, the widespread destruction of infrastructure, and the increasing number of displaced persons.

The European Union condemned the rocket attacks by Hezbollah on Israel, and the attacks by Israel on Qana. According to international humanitarian law, those who did not take direct part in hostilities were entitled to the respect of their lives. All parties should do as much possible to protect the civilian populations and refrain from disproportionate and illegal actions. All attacks on United Nations personnel were unacceptable. The European Union called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, to be followed by a sustainable cease-fire. The European Union called on all parties to grant secure and efficient passage for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and deplored the recent destruction of infrastructure, making the distribution of humanitarian assistance more difficult. The European Union was committed to promote a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East in close cooperation with partners and the countries in the region. There was no military solution to any of the problems facing the people of the region.

SHA ZUKANG (China) said that since the beginning of the conflict, more than 1,000 people had been killed in Lebanon and more than a million displaced. The massive displacement and the killing of innocent lives were not acceptable. People in the region should be allowed to live in tranquillity and peace. China opposed any attack on civilian lives and their infrastructure and maximum constraint should be observed. Access to the international humanitarian agencies should be facilitated so that they bring assistance to the victims. China would continue to work with the international community to resolve the situation diplomatically. War could not bring security to the region. Humanitarian assistance should be channelled to the areas where the attacks had affected the inhabitants.

ANA INES ROCANOVA (Uruguay) said Uruguay had supported the convening of the special session, and had done so for two reasons, including that the situation in the Middle East had only gotten worse, jeopardising the fundamental rights of civilians, and because the daily suffering was increasing for thousands. Uruguay could not disassociate itself from this issue. Uruguay was deeply concerned at the grave events taking place, and the failure of international initiatives to date to halt them. The destruction of basic infrastructure and the loss of so many lives and the humanitarian crisis triggered by the massive displacements were all deeply regretted. The international community should ensure the humanitarian aid necessary to relieve suffering and ensure enjoyment of basic rights.

The humanitarian crisis also extended to the north of Israel. It was necessary to ensure Israel’s rights to secure borders if there was to be a solution to the conflict, but no feasible solution could be found if there was no halt to indiscriminate aggression on both sides. The Human Rights Council should be working to ensure the enjoyment of the fundamental freedoms of all communities affected by the terrible consequences of the escalation of the violence. A mutually-acceptable compromise, respecting international law and the rights of all the civilian communities affected by the violence, should be found.

ARTURO CABRERA HIDALGO (Ecuador) said the conflict in Lebanon was a grave infringement of international law. The attack perpetrated against the civilian population in Lebanon was a flagrant violation of human rights. The indiscriminate destruction of properties and other infrastructure was of great concern. The number of innocent civilians killed by the Israeli bombardment had been increasing on a daily basis. The Council was now faced with a delicate issue, which it should act on in a balanced manner. There should be a coordinated effort among the Council and other UN bodies, such as the Security Council, to bring a remedy to the situation in the Middle East.

MOHINDER GROVER (India) said India was seriously concerned about the continuing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, which was threatening to destabilise the entire region. The present conflict had resulted in the killing and suffering of innocent civilians, and had exacerbated an already tense and delicate situation in the region. India called for immediate cessation of all acts of violence, exercising utmost restraint by all sides and resumption of dialogue.

It was regrettable that Israel had chosen to continue with the indiscriminate bombing of Lebanon, ignoring calls for restraint. The military operation had also destroyed civilian infrastructure and had prevented the delivery of humanitarian aid to the affected populations, adding to their hardships. There should be an immediate ceasefire so that the destruction of Lebanon was stopped, and humanitarian assistance could be provided. All sides should immediately halt the violence and return to the path of negotiations. Lasting peace and security in the region, which was a matter of interest and concern to the whole world, could be achieved only through a negotiated and comprehensive solution to the problems of this region that took into account the legitimate interests and grievances of all parties concerned.

VALERY LOSHCHININ (Russian Federation) said the bloody conflict in the Middle East had been going on for one month. The delegation of Russia agreed to all that had been said by other delegates in the room. In addition to the deaths and wounded, the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon had suffered a lot. The number of wounded had now reached 3,000. The Russian Federation had sent humanitarian emergency assistance to Lebanon and others should do the same. The death and injury of innocent civilians was a gross violation of human rights, particularly the right to life. The Council could not stand idle without taking any action, and that was why it was convening in a special session, a meeting which the Russian Federation supported. The Israeli people had also been suffering from the conflict. The resolution to be adopted by the Council should be a balanced one. The most important part of the Council’s efforts should focus on stopping the conflict. Russia had tabled a resolution to the Security Council, which it hoped would be adopted, in order to immediately stop the conflict.

GEBRAN SOUFAN (Lebanon) said horror in Lebanon became worse than a nightmare a month ago, and the producer, director and actor of the film was one party: Israel, which deliberately terrorised children and women. It committed the worst atrocities on Lebanese soil. A brutal and senseless war was going on in Lebanon. The Government of that country had announced from the first instance that it had no prior knowledge of what happened, nor did it endorse the operations carried out by Hezbollah. Furthermore, the Prime Minister had called for an immediate and comprehensive cease-fire under United Nations auspices, which would allow all issues to be responsibly resolved. What was being faced by Lebanon went beyond the issue of prisoners and captured soldiers: it was a whole nation whose people’s rights, security and land were being trampled under a questionable pretext.

Lebanese were being collectively slaughtered and punished by Israel. Whether children or adults, the killing was perpetrated in a most ruthless way,. As usual, and when in dire trouble, the Israelis were apologetic for unintended errors, or invoked the theory of human shields. Lebanon was on the brink of a humanitarian disaster. Amid the Israeli aggression, aimed at destroying the State of Lebanon, it was regrettable that some colleagues continued to argue about balance or to question the competence of the Council in case of gross and systematic violations of human rights. The draft resolution before the Council addressed the Israeli violations of human rights in Lebanon. It was not a draft about a Muslim country, but was a response to the Secretary-General’s request to the Council to condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.

ITZHAK LEVANON (Israel) said that after a month of pain and suffering on both sides of the border between Israel and Lebanon, the Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference had asked to convene the special session of the Council to deal exclusively with the suffering on only one side of the divide. But the suffering knew no boundaries. And the peoples of Lebanon and Israel together were paying the price of the vicious campaign of terror waged by Hezbollah. The simple fact of how the crisis started seemed to have evaded the memory of many in the Council. On 12 July, it was Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, which had perpetrated an unprovoked attack across an international border, descending a rain of missiles over Israeli homes, towns and villages, followed by the abduction of two Israeli servicemen and the murder of eight soldiers.

It was Hezbollah that had since launched over 3,500 rockets into Israel, killing and inuring thousands of Israeli civilians, sending close to one million into basements and bomb shelters and away from their homes, and destroying thousands of houses. It was Hezbollah that continued to preach and to practice its genocidal philosophy calling for the destruction of Israel. Today, Israelis were living under a daily barrage of Iranian and Syrian missiles, launched with the sole purpose to massacre scores of innocent Israelis. The kidnapped Israeli soldier should be released unconditionally and the threat against Israel’s population should stop.

AMIN MELEIKA (Egypt) said Egypt firmly condemned the Israeli aggression on Lebanon, including all the resulting consequences, the death of martyrs from the civilian population and the destruction of infrastructure and the obstruction of international assistance. This was in flagrant violation of the human rights of Lebanese, including the right to life and the right to assistance. How long would the international community engage in its hypocrisy, treating Israeli practices and violation of human rights instruments, tolerating the massacre of innocents, he asked. The international community should shoulder its historic responsibility and end Israeli aggression. This demonstrated the failure of the United Nations, which could not even ensure collective security.

Since the war began, Egypt had worked to prevent a deterioration of the situation, issuing warnings that the situation in the Middle East could explode, with ramifications around the world. Egypt would do its best to safeguard Lebanon and its entire people. The United Nations had the responsibility for protecting human rights in all parts of the world. It was necessary to adopt the draft resolution by consensus, and to send a fact-finding mission to study the facts, including the lawfulness of the use of certain weapons.

CHOE MYONG NAM, of the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that the gross and systematic human rights violations perpetrated by Israel in Lebanon were a sources of deep concern and outrage. Since the Israeli invasion, already thousands of civilian men, women, children and old people were massacred or inured, a million population displaced and an extensive network of infrastructure and other civilian facilities severely damaged as a result of a brutal and barbarous war. The invasion and consequent killings of innocent civilians by all means constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity as they were in flagrant breach of the principles of the UN Charter, international law and international humanitarian law. If that situation of atrocities was to continue, it might result in hundreds of thousands of more human causalities or even millions, further devastation of Lebanon and there was a danger of pushing the whole Middle East to the brink of a new war.

CAROLINE MILLER, of (Australia) said Australia was concerned by the one-sided nature of the special session, and encouraged all members of the Human Rights Council to act responsibly and to promote and protect human rights in a balanced and even-handed way. Holding a special session in this context would not help advance the cause of peace in the Middle East. Australia shared the international community’s deep concern about the impact of the conflict on civilians in Israel and Lebanon.

Israel had the right to protect itself from terrorist attacks. Its actions were taking place in response to the actions of Hamas and Hezbollah, including hostage taking, and rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon into Israel. Out of this crisis, there was the opportunity to achieve a sustainable peace around a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For that to occur, all parties should accept Israel’s right to exist in peace. Australia supported a long-term and durable resolution to the conflict.

DHARAR ABDUL-RAZZAK RAZZOOQI, of (Kuwait) said Kuwait condemned the Israeli aggression against its Lebanese brothers. The Israel aggression did not distinguish between its targets and was attacking civilians, in defiance of the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian laws. The humanitarian situation in Lebanon was catastrophic. All those who had died in the Israel attacks were children, women and the elderly. Some Israelis had been advising the Israeli Prime Minister to concentrate on diplomacy; and it was a good sign that there were still some people in Israel to think like that.

NASSER RASHID AL NUAIMI, of (Qatar) said references had been made to courage, wisdom, and self-defence, and asked whether massacres of children and women were acts of self-defence. All had witnessed the violation of human rights over the last month, the result of Israel’s aggression. The most elementary rights had been violated, and, over and beyond the destruction of the country’s infrastructure, Israel had continued to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching the martyrs and the wounded. Humanitarian organizations were unable to do their work. The international community had done nothing to react and put an end to the massacres perpetrated for the last four weeks, and had closed its eyes.

Israel was violating international instruments with impunity, and the children and widows of Lebanon were weeping as a result. The international community should shoulder its responsibilities before the world. The Human Rights Council was undergoing a test, and history would not forgive it if it did not rise to the occasion and put an end to the crisis and the war. All members of the Council should join in the unanimous adoption of the resolution.

FAWZI ABUSAA of (Libya) said that more than a 1,000 people had been killed while other thousands were wounded in Lebanon. The Israeli aggression had inflicted suffering on millions of people in Lebanon, with many unable to move because of the destruction of the country’s transportation system. In order to cease the massacre, there should be an immediate cessation of the Israeli aggression. Libya was in favour of sending a commission of investigation to see what had happened in Lebanon. The Security Council was unable to pass a resolution calling for the immediate cessation of the Israeli aggression.

ELSADIG ALMAGLY of (Sudan) said the Israeli aggression against Lebanon had affected many women and children, and had not spared the unborn, whose only consolation was that they did not come to the world at such a disastrous time. A delegation in the room had taken the floor and had tried to hide the truth. The United States dominated the Security Council, which had become a sword used against developing countries. The United States, the European Union and the Security Council had made an issue of the Darfur crisis, even though it was a tribal crisis. A delegation had been sent to Darfur, and the Secretary-General had visited - but neither had been sent to Lebanon.

The Security Council had not even managed to come up with a presidential statement or a press release on Lebanon. The Qana massacre had not even been denounced, even though it was the second in ten years. Lebanese had the right to face up to aggression. The United Nations had lost its usefulness, and had been unable to condemn the death of four of its observers. It was hoped that every effort would be made in Geneva to ensure that the Human Rights Council was not stillborn, and its credibility and effectiveness ensured. If the Council was to retain its legitimacy, it had to be active, and adopt resolutions.

ALIREZA MOAYERI of (Iran) said that the brutal collective punishment that the Lebanese were now enduring was the Israeli signature of aggression, which the peoples in the region had experienced, time and again in the past several decades. The new round was more alarming as it occurred at a sensitive time when various Lebanese communities and parties were engaged in a national endeavour to reach a comprehensive understanding. Diplomatic words failed to describe the massacre of innocent women and children in Qana, which had suffered a similar tragedy ten years ago when Israel cold-bloodedly murdered hundreds of civilians who had taken refuge at the UN outpost. In showing solidarity with the people and Government of Lebanon, the Council’s voice on the issue should be clear. That real voice was an indication to Lebanon that the international community stood by it in its time of distress.

The Representative of (New Zealand) said the current crisis in the Middle East was a matter of grave concern, and there should be an immediate halt to the hostilities. Like most questions associated with the decades-old struggle between Israel and its Arab neighbours, the direct causes of the latest conflict were not agreed. Israel had not acted with due proportionality or caution in intensifying actions which had resulted in such a heavy toll of death and injury on civilians. Hezbollah’s continuing actions were equally unacceptable. The attacks by both parties should stop, and all parties should play their part to bring about an immediate cessation of the hostilities, to be followed by actions enabling the establishment of a comprehensive peace in the region.

Every State had a right under international law to defend itself against attack, but in doing so it should respect the principle of proportionality. All parties were also bound by international law to spare civilians as well as civilian property. The international community should call on all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international law. All parties to the conflict should facilitate the safe and rapid deployment of much-needed humanitarian aid. The Council had an important role to play in upholding the rights of people against the violations of international human rights law by any party, and to do otherwise on this occasion would undermine the credibility of the body.

The Representative of (Palestine) said that since 12 July, Lebanon had been subjected to a brutal onslaught by Israel, which had led to the wanton killing, injuring and displacement of thousands of Lebanese civilians. Such Israeli abhorrent acts and gross violations of human rights further smeared an already failing record of human rights performance by the State of Israel. The second massacre in Qana, where again civilians seeking refuge were killed in cold blood by Israeli air strikes, was symptomatic of Israel’s disregard for international humanitarian law and human rights law. The failure of the international community to address the egregious situation in Lebanon was causing a series of more massacres.

Only three days ago, Israeli missiles plummeted over the masses carrying out a funeral for the victims of Israel assaults. Such Israeli aggressions would continue unabated unless an immediate ceasefire was achieved. The systematic targeting and killing of civilians, mostly children and the deliberate destruction by Israel of infrastructure, including bridges, roads, airports, schools and hospitals amounted to war crimes, that the international community could not turn a blind eye to.

The Representative of (Chile) said it regretted and deplored the hundreds of civilian dead and injured and the deliberate destruction of essential infrastructure established for the well-being and effective enjoyment of the human rights of the people of southern Lebanon as a result of the disproportionate actions by Israel. There was concern and alarm over the long-term effects of the destruction of infrastructure and other material and economic damage over the effective enjoyment of economic and social rights among others on the Lebanese people. The actions of Hezbollah were also condemned.

Protection and respect of the civilian population was the duty of all, and all parties to a conflict should avoid unnecessary suffering and protect the civilian population. There should be an immediate cessation of hostilities, and all parties should take all necessary measures to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid, and guarantee the security and integrity of all humanitarian staff in the field. Chile supported all multilateral efforts made in the framework of the United Nations Charter to find a solution for durable peace in the region.

The Representative of (Syria) said that what was enumerated by Israel were merely allegations. The relevant resolutions adopted by the United Nations had never been honoured by Israel. The Human Rights Council was meeting to consider the grave violations of humanitarian law by Israel. Since the situation in the Middle East had become a daily agenda for the Security Council, the situation had not changed. Israel had violated all international laws and should be brought before the International Criminal Court for the war crimes it was committing in Lebanon. The international community in punishing authors should not leave the atrocities committed by Israel aside without appropriate reaction.

The Representative of (Venezuela) said the holding of this special session was appreciated. Today, the issue was very sensitive, brought about by indiscriminate military action in Lebanon, a serious violation of human rights and of international law and jus cogens, and this constituted crimes against humanity. Venezuela was co-sponsoring the draft resolution to set up a commission to investigate the attacks on civilians, the types of weapons used, and the impact on human life, the infrastructure and the environment. Venezuela deeply regretted the thousands of unjustified deaths, and had provided humanitarian assistance.

While it was very important to mitigate the consequences and to intervene to mitigate and modify the effects, even more important was the adoption of an immediate cease-fire to the conflict. The decision to this was in the hands of the Security Council, which had its hands tied. There should be an immediate solution to the conflict.

M. WARREN TICHENOR (United States) said the United States was deeply concerned about the suffering of innocent Lebanese and Israeli civilians, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of persons. The human costs in both countries had been tremendous. The United States continued to work with the Governments of Lebanon and Israel and others on the ground to help address the humanitarian situation in Lebanon. The United States believed that the special session of the Council was unhelpful and potentially counter-productive to the Security Council’s efforts to address the complex issues involved in that conflict, while taking into account the views of Lebanon and Israel, in search of a durable settlement. The United States remained firm in its belief that the special session mechanism was an invaluable tool in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Council, however, must act responsibly – striving for impartiality and non-selectivity.

The current crisis in Lebanon was precipitated by an unprovoked attack on Israel. The session and the proposed resolution failed to acknowledge that fact. The Council and the resolution also failed to take into account the more than 3,000 rockets Hezbollah had fired into Israel, deliberately targeting civilians, killing dozens and injuring hundreds of innocent Israeli citizens. Israel had the right under international law to defend itself against Hezbollah’s continuing attacks.

The Representative of (Yemen) said the Israeli aggression had adverse effects on peace and security in the region. Yemen was against those who wanted to convert Lebanon to scorched earth in actions committed by Israel under the pretext of self-defence. Israel should put an end to its occupation if it wished to arrive at a lasting peace. Israel destroyed Beirut because it gave rise to a peace initiative. The capital had been totally destroyed.

The Council should come out completely against the bloody aggression perpetrated by Israel. The credibility of the Security Council was at stake at present, and the latter should be the reference point for international peace and security, and the Council seemed to be resorting to double standards, having not called for an immediate ceasefire. The Security Council seemed to be perpetuating the war. Since 1948, Security Council resolutions against Israel had remained a dead letter, with an improper use of vetoes with regards to condemnations of Israeli actions. The victory would be won by humanitarian causes. It was a question of mankind benefiting from the work of the Council.

The Representative of (United Arab Emirates) said that Israel was waging a disproportionate war against Lebanon. It was using phosphorous weapons, which were prohibited by international law. The Israel aggression against Lebanon had caused huge damages and caused the suffering of millions. It had no regard to infrastructure and it had continued its barbaric bombing. The Israeli action had left aside the peaceful means and had imposed a military solution to resolve the conflict. The United Arab Emirates supported the sending of a mission to Lebanon to investigate the kind of weapons used by Israel and the extent of the damages that it had caused. The United Arab Emirates also would support the draft resolution condemning Israel’s aggression.

The Representative of (Belarus) said Belarus was watching with great concern the continuing escalation of violence in the Middle East which was claiming as its main victims innocent persons from the civilian population. Any military action should be carried out solely with the approval of the Security Council, but in recent times the practice of arbitrary incursion into sovereign States was starting take on a threatening dimension, and this could have a negative effect on the current international security system.

There was deep alarm at the bombardment of Qana, and this sort of action was intolerable and a gross violation of international law, international human rights law, and the basic right to life. The international community should draw conclusions from this incident, and do all possible to ensure an immediate ceasefire and to find an immediate peaceful solution to the conflict. During the session, a decision should be adopted that was appropriate in the light of the humanitarian situation in the region, and the draft proposed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference was supported.

The Representative of (Mauritania) said Mauritania was particularly concerned by the magnitude of human loss which was affecting the civilian population, including children, women and old people. It was also concerned by the destruction, on a large scale, of the Lebanese infrastructure. The Government of Mauritania condemned the dangerous escalation and the human suffering and the massive destruction taking place each day. In the face of the situation, Mauritania reiterated its solidarity with the people and Government of Lebanon and expressed its total rejection of all attempts to affect the security, sovereignty and independence of Lebanon. The immediate, total and lasting cessation of hostilities constituted a priority and a necessary condition to return to a normal situation.

The Representative of (Holy See) said once again the violation of human rights had led to insecurity and conflict in Lebanon and in the Middle East in a vicious cycle that continued to disrupt peaceful coexistence. This cycle could be broken if reason, good will, trust in others, implementation of commitments and cooperation between responsible partners were allowed to prevail. The first step to such an approach, in line with international law standards, required an immediate cease fire, first of all to help and protect the civilian population and their basic rights.

Peace was a basic condition for the respect and enjoyment of all human rights. In this context, the Lebanese people had a right to the integrity and sovereignty of their country; the Israeli people had a right to live in peace in their own State, and the Palestinian people had a right to have a free and sovereign homeland. Before the current drama in the Middle East, the international community could not be indifferent or neutral. Solutions, however, could not be improvised at the whim of conquest by either side. No just and durable solution could be reached by recourse to terrorism or armed conflict and only dialogue was the way to peace and to safeguard human rights.

The Representative of the (League of Arab States) said that Israel had now found another victim, which was ebanon. The Israeli military had been targeting the civilian population. It was terrorising people to leave their homes. There was no reason to destroy the civilian infrastructure, like Israel was doing now. The number of victims had also been increasing. International emergency humanitarian assistance was not able to reach the victims because of the Israel aggression that was impeding many of the agencies to travel to the areas affected. Israel was not respecting the international standards aimed at safeguarding civilians.

The Representative of (Norway) said Norway was seriously concerned with the escalating conflict and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Lebanon. Urgent measures were needed to stabilise the situation, and to avert a further humanitarian catastrophe and bring an end to the unacceptable loss of civilian lives. No conflict was above international humanitarian law and international human rights. Hezbollah and Israel should respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The road to peace in the Middle East should be found by way of negotiation, not armed conflict. There should be an investigation of the events that had occurred on the ground, provided that the actions of all actors were covered.

The parties to the conflict had a clear obligation under international humanitarian law to ensure full and unhindered access for humanitarian relief organizations. The obstacles and security risks humanitarian aid workers faced today were unacceptable. Norway remained deeply concerned by the suffering inflicted on civilians as a result of the continuing violence in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Representative of (Colombia) said Colombia was deeply concerned about the situation in Lebanon and the suffering of the civilian population, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the displacement of people. Colombia also condemned acts of terrorism. There was a large Lebanese community in Colombia, and they expressed their solidarity with the families of the victims. The Government of Colombia had decided to assist the victims through the United Nations system by sending aid.

The Representative of (Armenia) said Armenia deplored the loss of civilian lives on all sides, and was seriously concerned about the continuing escalation of Israeli military actions in Lebanon, which had claimed a very high number of innocent civilian lives. It particularly denounced the use of disproportionate, excessive force, which effectively resulted in a collective punishment of civilians and the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure and utilities.

Armenia called for an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities by all sides to end the tragic loss of civilian life. There should be an immediate application of all necessary measures to protect the population against the consequences of war and to open humanitarian safe corridors in order to ensure the distribution of relief assistance and to alleviate the dire economic and social conditions of affected people, especially the displaced. There should be an early Security Council resolution, negotiated and acceptable to all sides of the conflict.

The Representative of Human Rights Watch said this special session provided an important opportunity for the Human Rights Council to help protect civilians in grave danger in both Lebanon and Israel. Given the well documented violations of international humanitarian law by both Israel and Hezbollah, however the Council’s pronouncements would lack credibility and be futile if they failed to address abuses by both parties. Since the beginning of the armed conflict, Israel’s air strikes and artillery shells had killed over 700 Lebanese civilians. During the same period, Hezbollah rockets had killed 39 Israeli civilians. Human Rights Watch researchers had documented the impact of the parties’ conduct on civilians throughout the conflict.

The Council should, among other things, call upon the Security Council to condemn serious international humanitarian law violations by both sides to the conflict and demand that they scrupulously abide by the laws of war, including the requirement to distinguish at all times between civilians and combatants; request the UN Secretary-General to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict; call for all parties to ensure safe passage for humanitarian relief, and insist that all parties cooperate with and provide access to the four Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council who have announced their plans to travel to Lebanon and Israel.

The Representative of Amnesty International said members of the Council had a duty to address the current crisis in Lebanon and Israel on the basis of the principles of impartiality, objectivity, constructive dialogue and cooperation. Governments should apply these principles faithfully in the Council, and rise above the temptations of political advantage and make a real contribution to ending the current violations of human rights and humanitarian law and to preventing future ones. The Council should condemn the abuse of international human rights law and humanitarian law by all parties to the current hostilities in Lebanon and Israel, and should call upon all parties to the hostilities to respect their obligations under international law.

The Representative of World Jewish Congress pointed out the one-sided nature of the agenda for this session, and expressed collective outrage that this body continued to ignore and thereby excuse deliberate and systematic violation of the human rights of tens of millions of fellow human beings. The entrenched terrorist army in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah, was one manifestation of a scourge affecting every corner of the globe. Hezbollah was among those terrorist movements which were funded and directed by sovereign States and members of the United Nations. Iran and Syria were State sponsors of terrorism. Judaism, like Islam, was premised on the sanctity of human life and human dignity, principles that also applied to the one million Israelis living in bomb shelters to avoid the thousands of Hezbollah rockets designed to maximize civilian casualties, and to the 85 innocent murdered in the Hezbollah attack on Argentina’s Jewish community headquarters in Buenos Aires 12 years ago this summer. The World Jewish Congress would continue to advocate for meaningful efforts to advance and protect the human rights of all, proportional to the scale of violations. Was Israel the primary violator of human rights in the world? If the Council only focused on Israel and neglected the bulk of alleged ongoing human rights emergencies elsewhere, how would the world ever know.

The Representative of International Commission of Jurists said protecting the lives of civilians in Lebanon and Israel could not await the outcome of diplomatic negotiations in New York, and the Council could address violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law as had the Commission on Human Rights. The credibility of the Council would be seriously damaged if it did not address these human rights violations. The role of the Council was not to be balanced, as this was a political attitude, its role was to examine the situation impartially. The International Commission of Jurists had called for an official United Nations commission of inquiry to investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian law by all parties. The International Commission of Jurists was establishing an expert legal inquiry into violations of international humanitarian law in the armed conflict in Lebanon on both sides.

The Representative of International Federation of Human Rights appealed to the international community to take appropriate measures to guarantee the safety of Lebanese and Israeli civilians. The international community could not remain silent any more after the displacement of nearly 1 million Lebanese, the death of more than 1,000 persons and the injury of 3,500 Lebanese. The Israeli attacks also continued to destroy Lebanese infrastructure. The International Federation of Human Rights condemned strongly the Israeli military operations as well as the attacks by Hezbollah on the Israeli civilians. These attacks against civilians on both sides were serious violations of human rights and constituted crimes of war. The International Federation of Human Rights urged the Council to adopt a resolution which called on the parties to immediately agree to a ceasefire; called on Israel to withdraw immediately its forces from Lebanese territory; established an international independent inquiry commission to look into the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Lebanon and Israel; and condemned grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the conflict, among others.

The Representative of B’nai B’rith International said it supported continued negotiations in the Security Council and elsewhere to end hostilities, return the abductees and disarm Hezbollah. However, this session only damaged United Nations reform and the human rights system as a whole, without contributing to a viable resolution. It also obstructed the Council’s ability to address other matters. Members should reject the draft resolution, as it did not take into account the right of a sovereign nation, Israel, to self-defence. The breaches committed by Hezbollah and the fact that it was represented in the Lebanese Government was ignored in the resolution, and it should be rejected so as to avoid pushing the Council down the road of discredit which led to the demise of the old Commission.

The Representative of Habitat International Coalition said the Israeli attacks on Lebanon were not isolated and were epitomized in the targeting of civilians in Israel’s 1982, 1993 and 1996 Israeli attacks and operations in Lebanon. UN bodies now faced a challenge of international legality. What was needed was a problem-solving UN human rights policy. The Council held a new key by applying the human rights framework as a problem-solving tool. There was a need for a full and immediate withdrawal of all forces, creating a demilitarised zone in northern Israel and southern Lebanon and installing international troops there, the complete return of Lebanese to their homes with reparations and a complete hostage prisoner exchange among others. A war crimes tribunal should also be set up. Anything less would compound the human deprivations that the world was witnessing today.

The Representative of International Association of Democratic Lawyers said one month had passed since the start of Israel’s massive aerial bombardment of Lebanon, without the Security Council acting, held hostage by the veto power of one State. At the feet of the Security Council lay the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of civilians and the destruction of Lebanon. If the Human Rights Council, the newly reformed and depoliticised body, meant to act to prevent human rights abuses and to uphold international human rights law did not act, then who in the international community would, he asked. The Council should call for an immediate case fire between the parties, and delineate the legality of third party States which had continued and even stepped up provision of money and arms to Israel in furtherance of its military campaign overwhelmingly targeting civilians and the civilian infrastructure in Lebanon, as without the complicity of these third-party States, the atrocities taking place in Lebanon would not take place.

The Representative of Franciscans International said Franciscans International and the Franciscan Family in Lebanon deplored the violence which had recently erupted in Lebanon and in northern Israel. Its members in Lebanon constantly informed of the deaths and destruction caused by air bombardments and land incursions carried out by the Israeli army as well as of the suffering of thousands of people, whose houses had been damaged and were deprived of electricity, water, food and medicines. Especially vulnerable victims were the 500,000 migrant workers, of whom 140,000 were migrant domestic workers, who were presently in Lebanon. Franciscans International called upon all parties to the conflict to an immediate cessation of all hostilities and to release detainees and kidnapped persons. It also urged relevant regional and international actions actors to exert their utmost efforts to bring the contending parties back to the way of dialogue in view of building a lasting peace rooted in the full respect of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The Representative of Pax Romana said today, after four weeks of war of attrition, the Lebanese civilian population was being subjected to a situation in which it had very little access to humanitarian assistance. Indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by parties to the conflict was unacceptable. The populations were being subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The suffering of the civilian population was escalating on all sides. It was not too late to bring an end to the war, and the resolution L.1’s suggestion to send a high-level commission of inquiry was welcomed. An end should be put to the barbarous action of killing of civilian populations immediately, and a failure to do this would be a failure of the international community as well as of civil society. There was a need for a rapid response to the needs of the civilian population.

The Representative of World Organization against Torture said the Human Rights Council was faced with heavy responsibilities because of the very serious events currently underway, which had taken place since the electoral victory of Hamas in the Palestinian territories and had culminated with the Israeli intervention in Lebanon. These responsibilities emanated both from its status and from the hopes placed upon it by the international community. It was the Council’s duty to play a new role that would allow the achievement of concrete results, as was repeated during the process leading to its creation. Since the beginning of the conflict, the World Organization against Torture had observed a number of violations of both human rights and humanitarian law. Among the grave violations perpetrated by both parties to the conflict, the Organization took note of the indiscriminate attacks against civilians in the framework of military operations conducted. The Organization also noted that both parties to the conflict had resorted to the taking of hostages, an act that went against all conventions. The World Organization against Torture called for an immediate cessation of military operations by all the parties to the conflict and for the establishment of an UN-led investigation mission whose mandate should be to establish the facts, draw up a list of violations of both human rights and humanitarian law, identify the culprits and launch legal action against them, identify the victims and the damages incurred, and ensure the full reparation for the said damages.

The Representative of the World Union for Progressive Judaism said the close links between Iran and Hezobollah and its leaders were well documented. The remarks made by the leader of Hezbollah were that the Jews invented the legend of the Nazi atrocities. On 31 December 1999, Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamene’ had declared that there was only one solution to the Middle East problem, namely the annihilation and destruction of the Jewish State. It was not enough to the Council to give a passive reference to Hezbollah, it should be condemned and for the bloody border war with Israel that it initiated. The time for words and warnings was past, and the time for urgent action against the monstrous evil of terrorism was now. The democratic world should fight for its liberty.

The Representative of Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru also speaking on behalf of the World Peace Council, said once again, Israel was carrying out a military aggression, bombing Lebanon daily and destroying its infrastructure. The brutal attack of Israel started on the pretext of rescuing two Israeli soldiers. Since then, more than 1,000 people had died under the bombs and a third of the Lebanese population had been displaced. Washington wanted to reshape the Middle East and to take over its strategic resources and it was using Israel in Lebanon. The Zionist aggressor was targeting Lebanon. Thanks to the United States, Israel today was a nuclear power with weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, with its veto and in complicity with the European Union, the United States was blocking the Security Council. The United States was opposing the ceasefire until Hezbollah had been eliminated. The international community could no longer allow this power to continue to arm and support Israel with the aim of annihilating an entire race in the region, on the pretext of getting rid of terrorism.

The Representative of UN Watch said that today, the Council held yet another special session to single out Israel for denunciation, this time over the war ignited by Hezbollah. Even if the sponsors of the session had good intentions, the Security Council was tackling the case. But as recent events had proven, the world body’s ruled in the mad rush to slam the Middle East’s only democracy. Like its two previous sessions, Council members today would solemnly assemble to denounce Israel – while ignoring mass killing of black Africans in Sudan, the jailing of journalists in Cuba, repression of women in Saudi Arabia, and countless other violations in the UN’s other 191 countries – and then congratulate themselves on a job well done.

Right of Reply

The Representative of (Lebanon), speaking in a right of reply, said that when bombs were being dropped on civilians in their homes, it was hypocritical of Israel to talk about terrorism. Concerning the launching of the current war in Lebanon, Israel had no right to destroy a country. The Israeli attacks, including on Qana and other examples, were violations and atrocities. Concerning the war victims, it had been recognized that there had been carnage by Israel in Lebanon. Lebanon refused to let its lands be used to settle an account.

The Representative of (Syria), in exercise of its right to reply, said that the speaker from the World Jewish Congress had made an erroneous statement disregarding the UN Charter. The speaker should read the relevant international laws and most particularly the United Nations Charter, which he referred to incorrectly. The person was addressing insults against Syria, whose territory was still occupied by Israel. He called upon the speaker to read the Charter of the United Nations properly in order to understand the situation. Israel was perpetrating atrocious against the Arabs and since it had occupied their territories, it had continued its suppression of the rights of the Arab people. His reply was equally directed to UN Watch and the Word Union for Progressive Judaism.

Statements Before and After the Vote

The Representative of (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said the resolution was one-sided and would not provide any solution to the problems on the ground. As he mentioned in his previous intervention, the Council was preoccupied only by what was happening on one side of the divide. He called on all peace-loving countries to vote against the resolution.

The Representative of (Lebanon), speaking as a concerned country, said he would like to ask whether a State had the right to destroy a State because an operation happened on some day and the Government of Lebanon acknowledged that it knew nothing about it, and did not endorse it, and was ready to address the matter through the United Nations or friendly countries. As a result, there had been a disproportionate use of violence and fire against civilians in Lebanon. If candid language was to be used, it was a whole country on the brink of being completely destroyed. If there was to be a balance, then the amount of destruction and number of victims should be counted. When speaking about balance, the only reply was whoever wanted to address balance would not encounter such destruction and violence.

If these violations of human rights did not stop, it was Lebanon’s right to say that it was being treated like children of a lesser god. Lebanon was not a country of slaves, it was a country of human beings, who should be left to live in peace and dignity, and all should vote in favour of the resolution.

The Representative of (Canada), in a general statement before the vote, said that the issue should be considered by the meetings of the High Contracting Parties of the Geneva Conventions. The issue was also currently before the Security Council and Canada did not consider it helpful or constructive for the Human Rights Council to be dealing with similar issues in a way that might not be consistent with the position of the Security Council. Canada firmly reiterated its desire to employ the new Council for constructive, not divisive ends. Canada would vote against the draft resolution.

The Representative of (Switzerland), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it had carefully studied the draft resolution before the Human Rights Council today. Switzerland would have liked the Council to respond in an appropriate manner to the situation and take a balanced and non-discriminatory approach. The Council existed only to protect all victims of human rights violations and to improve their situation. The resolution which was being proposed only partially met this approach. Despite improvements that had been made at the last minute, it was somewhat unbalanced and selective. Even if some parts could be endorsed, it followed what was sometimes an approach in the former Commission and had been criticised by those who had put the text forward today. It was imperative for the Council to increase its dialogue and consultation processes. Its impartiality should be without dispute. For these reasons and others, Switzerland would abstain from the vote.

The Representative of (Republic of Korea) said that looking at the tragic situation in the region, the delegation of the Republic of Korea was extremely concerned about the heavy causalities of innocent civilians, and the huge number of displaced persons and destruction. The situation was primarily a matter of international peace and security. The Republic of Korea was not fully convinced that the resolution would substantially contribute to the halt of the violation of human rights in the region. The resolution covered the situation in only one part of the conflict and failed to address all the aspects involved in the situation. The delegation of the Republic of Korea would abstain in the vote.

The Representative of (Finland), on behalf of the European Union, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the European Union had expressed its concern for the widespread suffering and destruction following the escalation of violence, and deplored the loss of life, and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities followed by a sustained cease-fire. The European Union regretted that despite repeated requests no genuine discussion had taken place on the resolution, under the form of open-ended consultations on the draft resolution. The last-minute changes were not enough. The efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General for investigation of recent events were supported. The Council should address all human rights violations wherever they occurred. The resolution did not satisfy this basic condition, and only addressed concerns related to one part, and fell short in a very fundamental way. For this reason, the European Union and Romania would vote against the resolution.

The Representative of (India) said the purpose of the resolution was to send an unequivocal message to the parties with the view of an immediate cessation of the conflict. India would vote for the text as amended.

The Representative of (Russian Federation), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the draft resolution was not a simple document, and positions on it were elaborated by many countries. The document was, to a significant extent, an objective assessment of the situation. The amendments made the draft more balanced. Bearing these circumstances in mind, the Russian Federation supported the resolution.

The Representative of (Philippines) said the delegation of the Philippines had supported the convening of the special session of the Council. The text should be balanced and impartial; however, since it was not the case, the delegation of the Philippines would abstain in the vote.

The Representative of (Guatemala), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Guatemala had repeatedly condemned the loss of life and dramatic damage to the civilian population during the conflict, and on this occasion would abstain from the resolution. This was because of the impact of the resolution on the institutional arrangements of the United Nations, and because of the links that should exist between its principal organs. The results of the consultations in the Security Council should be preserved, and the resolution, if approved, might have an impact on the negotiations therein. The only thing clear was that the civilian populations in Lebanon and Israel had suffered from the conflict. There had been no open negotiation on the resolution as had been wished. The international community should address its energy and endeavours to bringing an end to hostilities and to bringing humanitarian aid so the civilian populations could return to their lives. Guatemala would associate itself with the majority in this situation.

The Representative of (Peru), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay and his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution. They were aware of the spiralling violence reigning in the region. They were further concerned by the escalation of the conflict and the suffering inflicted on the civilian population. They were deeply convinced that humanitarian law should be guaranteed in all circumstances. He hoped that the debate in the Security Council would bring a peaceful solution to the conflict. The five Latin American countries had followed with great interest the diplomatic efforts made to resolve the problem. A new spirit of dialogue should be initiated in order to bring a lasting peace to the region.


The Representative of (Japan), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Japan was sad as it had not been able to support the draft resolution put forth by its friends. This was not because Japan was not mindful of the very grave situation - on the contrary, it had time and again made clear how serious it took the situation in and around Lebanon, and the sufferings of the people there. Japan’s position was that it deeply regretted that, regardless of the repeated appeals of the international community, Israel continued its aerial bombardment, resulting in the deaths of a great number of civilians.

Japan called for an immediate ceasefire on both sides, and the release of hostages. All parties should observe the utmost self-restraint. All parties were responsible, and attacks from Hezbollah should duly be stressed also. Japan appreciated the co-sponsors efforts to improve the text in this direction, but it was still insufficient. The proposed resolution which had been accepted was far from being the one which would improve the situation, and this was why Japan had voted against it. This was the beginning of the Council, and inclusion and consensus seeking were being ignored at the very start. It was hoped in the future increased efforts would be made to reach consensus. Japan’s sympathy for the people of Lebanon was deep and unchanged; they should never have been put in the situation they were in today.

The Representative of (France), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that France deeply regretted that the resolution was not adopted by consensus. Israel had been violating international law, as did the Hezbollah through its firing of rockets into Israel. The negotiation on the draft resolution was not satisfactorily done to include most of the concerns expressed by delegates.

The Representative of (Cameroon), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it was concerned about the current crisis and the serious humanitarian crisis. Negotiations underway in the Security Council to adopt a resolution were important to put an end to the conflict. Hence, Cameroon believed that the resolution could disturb these negotiations and slow-down the adoption at the Security Council. It was to avoid such interference that Cameroon had abstained.

The Representative of (Mexico), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Mexico would like to express its concern about the suffering of innocent people in the region. The halt of hostilities would allow the starting of a dialogue. Human rights respect should be in all circumstances, and those rights could not be suspended in times of war. The Government of Mexico voted in favour of the resolution. It would have been preferable, from the Mexican point of view, to include a condemnation of acts committed by Hezbollah.

The Representative of (Pakistan), on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), in a general comment, said there was special gratitude for all Council members who had chosen to heed the call of the OIC and had made it their own. Innocent men, women and children were being killed every day and should be saved. They had the right to live, and the key for saving their lives was with Tel Aviv; if it stopped shelling and bombarding, it would save their lives. There was no easy solution for the Middle East, but an immediate cessation of hostilities would end this conflict. The Security Council should adopt a resolution so that the senseless orgy of killings came to an end, and all Security Council members had a special responsibility to the people of Lebanon in this regard.

There was deep dismay at the negative votes, and the speaker wondered how these would be expressed to civil society. By adopting the resolution, the situation had not been resolved, and the continuing human rights violations still called for collective action by the Council. It was hoped the Council’s decision would be executed, and the mission sent. Humanitarian action was required to help the victims and to give access to the humanitarian missions. The people of Lebanon were in dire need of food, water, and medical supplies, which humanitarian workers could no longer deliver. All should intervene and use their clout and influence in this regard. In the Council, whenever there was a difficult situation, it should not try to perform a balancing act guided by political interests and compulsions. Politics should not become so important that they drowned out the cries of a dying child or the creation of a wasteland before the member’s eyes.

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For use of the information media; not an official record