Human Rights Council
3 April 2009
Three Additional Members of Fact-Finding Mission Appointed
The Human Rights Council today announced the appointment of Richard J. Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and current Spinoza Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanity and Social Sciences, to lead an independent fact-finding mission to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip.
The Council’s President, Nigerian Ambassador Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, today announced his decision to appoint Justice Goldstone to lead the mission, which will also include the following experts: Professor Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London; Ms. Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders; and Colonel (retired from the Irish Armed Forces) Desmond Travers, member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI). The team will be supported by staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“I am confident that the mission will be in a position to assess in an independent and impartial manner all human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the context of the conflict which took place between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 and provide much needed clarity about the legality of the thousands of deaths and injuries and the widespread destruction that occurred”, Ambassador Uhomoibhi stated.
Today’s appointment comes following the adoption of a resolution by the Human Rights Council at the conclusion of its Special Session on 9 and 12 January convened to address “the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip”.
“It is in the interest of all Palestinians and Israelis that the allegations of war crimes and serious human rights violations related to the recent conflict on all sides be investigated. It is my hope that the findings of this mission will make a meaningful contribution to the peace process in the Middle East and to providing justice for the victims”, Justice Goldstone stated upon his appointment.
Members of the fact-finding mission will hold a range of discussions in Geneva within the next few weeks before departing for the region.
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International Independent Fact-finding mission
established pursuant to Resolution S-9/1 of the Human Rights Council
Biographical information of the members
Justice Richard J. Goldstone (South Africa)
Justice Richard J. Goldstone is a director of the International Center for Transitional Justice, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Economic and Social Rights, the Institute for Transitional Justice and Reconciliation and Physicians for Human Rights, and he is on the advisory board of the Project on Justice in Times of Transition. For many years he has served as a governor of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
He has been a visiting professor at NYU Law School, Fordham Law School, Georgetown Law School and Harvard Law School. He is currently the Spinoza Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in The Hague.
After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand with a BA LLB cum laude, Goldstone practiced as an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar.
In 1976 he was appointed senior counsel and in 1980 was made a judge of the Transvaal Supreme Court. In 1989 he was appointed to the Appellate Division.
From 1991 to 1994 he served as the chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry Regarding Public Violence and Intimidation, which came to be known as the Goldstone Commission.
He served as a judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from July 1994 to October 2003. From 15 August 1994 to September 1996 he served as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations' International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. From August 1999 until December 2001 he was the chairperson of the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo. In December 2001 he was appointed the co-chairperson of the International Task Force on Terrorism, which was established by the International Bar Association. In April 2004 the secretary-general of the United Nations appointed Goldstone to the independent committee to investigate the Iraqi oil-for-food programme (the Volcker Committee). In October 2007 he was appointed by the Registrars of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda to chair an Advisory Committee on the Archiving of the Documents and Records of the two tribunals.
Justice Goldstone is the recipient of several international human rights awards and most recently the MacArthur Foundation Award for International Justice to be presented at The Hague on 25 May 2009.
Prof. Christine Chinkin (the United Kingdom)
Christine Chinkin is Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London. She is an internationally respected scholar of public international law, alternative dispute resolution, international criminal law, human rights, especially women's human rights, and the intersection of feminist jurisprudence and international law.
Chinkin received an LL.B. with honours from the University of London in 1971; an LL.M. from the University of London in 1972; a second LL.M. from Yale University in 1981; and a Ph.D. from the University of Sydney in 1990.
Formerly dean of the law faculty at the University of Southampton and a member of the law faculty at the University of Sydney, she has served as a senior or guest lecturer on international law and international human rights at such universities as the National University of Singapore, Hong Kong University Law School, the International Law Institute of China, the European University Institute, Columbia University, and the University of Southampton.
She is the author of Third Parties in International Law (OUP, 1993); co-author of Dispute Resolution in Australia (Butterworths, 2nd edition 2002); co-author of The Boundaries of International Law: A Feminist Analysis (MUP, 2000); and co-author of The Making of International Law (OUP, 2007). In 2006 she was awarded with Hilary Charlesworth the Goler T. Butcher Medal of the American Society of International Law for services to human rights.
She has been a consultant on Public International Law to the Asian Development Bank and a member of its External Forum on Gender, on human trafficking and issues of economic and social rights to the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and on Security Council resolution 1325 and peace agreements to the UN Division for the Advancement of Women and UNIFEM . She advises a number of non-governmental organisations on gender and human rights issues. From December 2006 to September 2008, Chinkin was a member of the High Level Fact-finding Mission to Beit Hanoun established by the Human Rights Council and headed by Arch. Desmond Tutu.
Hina Jilani (Pakistan)
Hina Jilani is Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and was the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders from 2000 until April 2008.
Ms. Jilani was appointed Advocate of the High Court of Pakistan in 1981, seven years after completing her law studies. In 1992 she was appointed Advocate of the Supreme Court. She established Pakistan’s first all-women’s law firm in 1980, and cases she has conducted have on numerous occasions become landmarks for setting standards for human rights in Pakistan. Special areas of concern in her work have been the rights of women, minorities, children and prisoners, including political prisoners. Her activity in these areas include legal aid, advocacy for rights, proposing and preparing legislative drafts for law reform, and designing and conducting projects for the protection, promotion and implementation of the human rights of disadvantaged groups and their social, political and economic development.
Ms. Jilani has participated in formal and informal Expert Group meetings of the UN Human Rights Bodies, she has represented UN Agencies like UNICEF and UNIFEM at regional and international meetings and conferences as expert in specific fields of human rights. She was appointed as a Commissioner on the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur in October 2004. She has all through her career worked both nationally and internationally with a range of NGOs and NGO networks, and is member of the council and founding board of several international human rights institutions. In 1999 she was awarded the Human Rights Award by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, and in 2000 she was honoured with the Amnesty International Genetta Sagan Award for Women’s Rights.
During her tenure as Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, Hina Jilani presented 36 reports, of which 21 to the Commission on Human Rights, 7 to the General Assembly and 8 to the Human Rights Council. She carried out visits to 12 countries: Angola, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel and the oPt, Kyrgyzstan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nigeria, Serbia including Kosovo, Thailand, and Turkey.
Colonel (Ret’d) Desmond Travers (Ireland)
Desmond Travers is a retired Colonel of the Irish Army. His last appointment was as Commandant of its Military College. In a career spanning over forty years, he served in various field command, staff and instructional appointments. He was a founder of two of the Armys' teaching and training institutions.
He also served in command of troops and in key operational appointments with various UN and EU peace support missions. These were in the Middle-East (Cyprus, Lebanon) and in the Former Yugoslavia (Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina).
He is a student of military history and his works are published internationally from time to time.
Colonel Travers sits in the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI). IICI is composed of experts from around the world, and from disciplines relevant to both teaching and conducting investigations into serious violations of international humanitarian law.
For use of information media; not an official record