|U.N. HRC should refuse to endorse any deliberate violence against civilians: Prof. Richard Falk|
|Wednesday, 18 June 2008|
Special Rapporteur endorses Ambassador Jayatilleka’s interventionProf. Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, alluding in his concluding remarks, to an intervention made by Dr. Jayatilleke during the 8th Session of the Human Rights Council held on 16 June 2008 in Geneva said:“It is very important, it seems to me, for the Human Rights Council, as the Representative of Sri Lanka reminded us, to refuse to endorse any deliberate violence against civilians. That seems to be to me an unconditional element in the Geneva Conventions and we should take this opportunity to see that it is applied in a most effective way”.
During one of two interventions, Dr. Jayatilleke said that “While it is not possible to equate the oppressor and the oppressed, while it is morally wrong to be neutral between the occupier and the occupied, it is also true that no cause, however just, can warrant the witting, deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, on whichever side.”
Further, Dr. Jayatilleke pointed out that “Non state actors not only have the luxury of criticizing us in the Council, but they have to be held accountable for their conduct in international law.” He also reminded the gathering that Sri Lanka which faces “a far more ferocious threat than the State of Israel” does “not believe in a policy of the collective criminalization of any community or any part of the territory of Sri Lanka.”
Prof. Richard Falk,
UN Special Rapporteur
on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,
Dr. Jayatilleke also congratulated Prof. Falk, an Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and a Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who is also the author of numerous books, on his assuming the Special Rapporteurship.
Given below are the full texts of the two interventions made by the Ambassador prior to Professor Falk’s concluding remarks:First intervention
“Thank you Mr. President, Madame High-Commissioner,
Sri Lanka wishes to congratulate Professor Richard Falk for his assumption of the Special Rapporteurship. We are delighted that Professor Falk is the new holder of this mandate because we consider him one of the world’s most outstanding scholars. We are familiar with his work on World Order modeling and we also recognize that far from being a one sided critic of Israel, Professor Falk reflects one of the greatest strands of the Jewish scholarly tradition, that of holding a moral mirror up before the Jewish community. This is very clear in the tradition of the Prophets of the Old Testament.
H.E. Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN Geneva
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka
Now, Professor Falk has presented us with a moral argument for the modification of the mandate. Sri Lanka is in no position at this moment to make a definitive comment on it, but I think, it has to be taken with great seriousness, great seriousness. While it is not possible to equate the oppressor and the oppressed, while it is morally wrong to be neutral between the occupier and the occupied, it is also true that no cause, however just, can warrant the witting, deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, on whichever side. No cause.
The struggles of the people of China, of Vietnam, of Cuba, have shown that it is perfectly possible to fight against the greatest oppression while eschewing the targeting of civilians. The targeting of civilians weakens the moral case of the oppressed and must not be countenanced.
Sri Lanka has been victim of one sidedness where the violence of non state actors in specious causes, causes much less justifiable than those of the Middle East have visited upon us. Therefore, we urge in all seriousness, that the moral stature of Professor Falk be taken into account in assessing the plea that he has made here today. Non state actors not only have the luxury of criticizing us in the Council, but they have to be held accountable for their conduct in the international law. Therefore, I urge that Professor Falk’s suggestion be regarded with the philosophical seriousness that he deserves.
“Thank you Mr. President,
With the collapse of colonialism and apartheid, the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories remains as the longest standing moral outrage in international affairs. I reiterate that we refer to the Israeli occupation, not the existence of the State of Israel, which Sri Lanka considers to be legitimate and desirable.
Mr. President, no security requirement of an existing state can justify the position of collective punishment. The lack of fuel and medication in the hospitals of Gaza and the ensuing deaths and malnutrition of children, of infants, the recent affair about the inability of Fulbright scholarship winners to go to the United States to pursue their studies, all of these are examples of the collective punishment inflicted on the people of Gaza.
Mr. President, we also reject the systematic distortion of facts that accompany the Israeli occupation. It is said that Gaza has an illegitimate government because it seized power violently. But it is forgotten that Gaza has an administration that, prior to that, was elected in a free vote and that sanctions were imposed subsequent to that election and before the seizure of power. It is said that the Palestinian authority must crack down on extremism. But what is forgotten is the undermining of the moderates such as President Arafat and his fate being surrounded by Israeli tanks in Ramallah. How can the Palestinian authority or the so-called moderates crack down on so-called extremists when settlements are being built, precisely in the West Bank?
Mr. President, we in Sri Lanka face a far more ferocious threat than the State of Israel. But we do not believe in a policy of the collective criminalization of any community or any part of the territory of Sri Lanka. That is why, I think, we have the moral and ethical authority to speak on this subject.
Mr. President, no country’s security, legitimate as it is, is served by the moral erosion that accompanies the wholesale criminalization of other peoples, other nations, other communities. The moral standing of Israel, and therefore, in the long term, the viability and security of the State of Israel which Sri Lanka considers to be legitimate objectives, are undermined by its practices. This not only is an affront but is also counterproductive.
We are admirers of the Israeli democracy and the achievements of the Israeli people. We are also friends of the State of Israel. But we are friends and long–standing supporters of the people of Palestine. The policy of Sri Lanka, Mr. President, was best summed-up by the President of Sri Lanka who has remained for decades the President of the Palestine Solidarity Committee in Sri Lanka, and he reiterated our commitment to the Palestinian cause in his recent joint communication with the President of Iran. But the Sri Lankan President has always reiterated, most recently on his visit to London, that there is no such thing as good terrorism and bad terrorism, that there is no justification however just the cause, for acts of terrorism which target the innocent. Therefore, we call upon all sides to the conflict, to eschew the targeting of civilians in the pursuit of their legitimate interests.
Prof. Richard Falk
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
“… in response to comments that have been made, it is very important it seems to me, for the Human Rights Council, as the Representative of Sri Lanka reminded us, to refuse to endorse any deliberate violence against civilians. That seems to be to me an unconditional element in the Geneva Conventions and we should take this opportunity to see that it is applied in a most effective way. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that one overlooks the unequal responsibility, and one doesn’t overlook the unequal burden on the two peoples involved here. As I tried to emphasize, what the changing of the mandate will enable is to allow us to see the asymmetries of occupation in a clear method that will be more persuasive, and in the end, more effective in relation to the principle goals of the Human Rights Council. Thank you.”
Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His most recent book, The Great Terror War (2003), considers the American response to September 11, including its relationship to the patriotic duties of American Citizens. In 2001 he served on a three person Human Rights Inquiry Commission for the Palestine Territories that was appointed by the United Nations, and previously, on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Religion and Humane Global Governance; Human Rights Horizons; On Humane Governance: Toward a New Global Politics; Explorations at the Edge of Time; Revolutionaries and Functionaries; The Promise of World Order; Indefensible Weapons; Human Rights and State Sovereignty; A Study of Future Worlds; This Endangered Planet; coeditor of Crimes of War. He serves as Chair of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's Board of Directors and as honorary vice president of the American Society of International Law. Falk also acted as counsel to Ethiopia and Liberia in the Southwest Africa Case before the International Court of Justice. He received his B.S. from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; L.L.B. from Yale Law School; and J.S.D. from Harvard University.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 02 February 2009 )|
|< Prev||Next >|