I.P.O. Information Service

War victims and international law

Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), 17 July 2002/P/RE/17835c-is

At an international conference on "War Victims and International Law" held in Abu Dhabi from 15 to 16 July 2002, the President of the International Progress Organization (I.P.O.), Professor Hans Koechler, called upon the international community to take immediate action to enforce the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territories. In a keynote address entitled "The United Nations' Failure to Enforce International Law in Palestine and the Need of Effective Mechanisms of International Criminal Justice: The Case of Jenin," delivered at the opening session of the conference, Professor Koechler  analyzed the power constellation in the UN Security Council and related it to the organization's inability to defend the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people living under occupation. He presented the abandoned investigation of the atrocities committed in the Jenin refugee camp as an exemplary case  where the credibility of the world organization is at stake, and he said that "more than any other case in the history of war and occupation in Palestine, the atrocities – so far committed with impunity – in the Jenin refugee camp have made it clear that only an independent entity such as the International Criminal Court would be able to prosecute such crimes in the future."

The conferences was organized by the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-up, an institution affiliated with the League of Arab States. It was attended by international law experts and diplomats from Arab League member states, by representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and of non-governmental organizations such as Médecins sans frontières whose founder, Mr. Rony Brauman, addressed the conference at the opening session.

In a comprehensive paper, presented at the conference and outlining the framework of a global policy of peaceful coexistence,  the President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, stated that the world has become an interactive network of mutual interests and emphasized the imperative need for global cooperation to defuse tensions and to prevent the outbreak of deadly confrontations.

In a special message to the conference delegates, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Mr. Amr Mousa, said that the international community should not allow Israel to act as a state above the law and to continue human rights violations in occupied Palestine with impunity.

On the basis of proposals presented, among others, by the President of the I.P.O., the Final Document of the conference called upon the signatory states of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to ratify the treaty as soon as possible and urged the Arab League, Arab and international bar associations as well as war victims and their families to document war crimes in order to submit them to the competent judicial authorities. The conference further called upon the Secretary-General of the United Nations to revive the prematurely abandoned fact-finding mission that was supposed to investigate the atrocities committed in the Jenin refugee camp.

Article in the Khaleej Times Online, United Arab Emirates

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