The Pillay Commission

The UN Commission of Inquiry on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Chaired by Navi Pillay

overview

Pillay Commission Is Not Impartial

In wake of the 11-day Hamas-Israel war of May 2021, the Palestinians and Pakistan, acting on behalf of the Islamic group of states, initiated an emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council and succeeded in creating yet another Commission of Inquiry targeting Israel and incentivizing Hamas.

This one, however, is unprecedented. Its scope includes not only the war of May 2021, but all events leading up to it, and since. They also have the broad mandate to examine “root causes” of the conflict, including alleged “systematic discrimination” based on race.

Whereas all past inquiries on Israel lasted for about a year, this one is perpetual—it goes on forever. 

UN rules require that commissioners be impartial. Pillay is the opposite. On repeated occasions, Pillay has publicly accused Israel of being an Apartheid state. She has even signed petitions lobbying governments to “Sanction apartheid Israel.”

Navi Pillay was appointed to ensure a guilty verdict against Israel, to label it an Apartheid state with the UN’s imprimatur.

To demand an end to this perpetual inquiry, which has all the credibility of a Stalinist show trial, please join UN Watch’s campaign by signing our petition.

History

Mandate and History

On 27 May 2021, at the request of the Palestinian delegation and Pakistan on behalf of the Islamic group of states (the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), the Human Rights Council held a special session on “the Grave Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

By a vote of 24 to 9, with 14 abstentions, the Council adopted the resolution “Ensuring respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel.”

Those voting in favor: Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Eritrea, Gabon, Indonesia, Libya, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

Voting against were: Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Germany, Malawi, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

Through this resolution, HRC/30/1, the Human Rights Council decided to “urgently establish an ongoing, independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate, in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law leading up and since 13 April 2021.”

The resolution further requested the commission of inquiry to “investigate all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.” 

The commission of inquiry was mandated to report to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly on an annual basis as from June 2022 and September 2022, respectively.

  • Investigate in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law leading up to and since 13 April 2021;
  • Investigate all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity;
  • Establish the facts and circumstances that may amount to such violations and abuses and of crimes perpetrated;
  • Collect, consolidate and analyse evidence of such violations and abuses and of crimes perpetrated, and systematically record and preserve all information, documentation and evidence, including interviews, witness testimony and forensic material, in accordance with international law standards, in order to maximize the possibility of its admissibility in legal proceedings;
  • Document and verify relevant information and evidence, including through field engagement and by cooperating with judicial and other entities, as appropriate;
  • Identify, where possible, those responsible, with a view to ensuring that perpetrators of violations are held accountable;
  • Identify patterns of violations over time by analysing the similarities in findings and recommendations with and of previous United Nations fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry on the situation;
  • Make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring legal accountability, including individual criminal and command responsibility, for such violations, and justice for victims; and
  • Make recommendations on measures to be taken by third States to ensure respect for international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in accordance with article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions, and in fulfilment of their obligations under articles 146, 147 and 148 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, including by ensuring that they do not aid or assist in the commission of internationally wrongful acts.

Chair

Ms. Navi Pillay (South Africa)

Navi Pillay, appointed to head the COI, is well known for her bias towards Israel while UN High Commissioner of Human Rights in 2008-2014. In this position, she empaneled four fact-finding missions targeting Israel, more than any other country; oversaw the discredited Goldstone Report, which was later rejected by its primary author; permitted the appointment of the notoriously antisemitic Richard Falk as the Special Rapporteur for the Palestinians; and convened the 2009 Durban II conference, which was boycotted by most democracies, and provided Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a prominent platform to disseminate antisemitic vitriol.

Key documents

Submissions to the COI

On Palestinian Apartheid

UN Watch

Submission to the 2022 UN Commission of Inquiry

NGO Monitor

Submission to to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Advance of its review of Israel

Human Rights Watch

Perpetuating impunity: Israel’s failure to ensure accountability for violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

International Commission of Jurists

Apartheid in the Occupied West Bank: A Legal Analysis of Israel’s Actions

International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School and Addameer

Submission concerning the victims of Jew hatred incited by Nazi collaborator and Palestinian leader and mentor Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini

Human Rights Voices

UN Watch Responses

UNW's Recusal Motion

UN Watch’s 30-page legal brief submitted to the UN, detailing how Navi Pillay violated UN rules by failing to disclose numerous of her prior statements that directly prejudge the matters before the inquiry, and calling on her to recuse herself.

Submission on Palestinian
Discrimination against Israelis

UN Watch’ official submission to the Commission of Inquiry  

Side Event—The UN Inquiry on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

On June 13th, the Human Rights Council will hear the first report of its new Commission of Inquiry which is investigating alleged war crimes during last year’s Hamas-Israel war, as well as alleged systematic discrimination in Israel and the Palestinian territories. To bring critical information to the public debate, UN Watch has invited experts to present testimony that will be submitted to the COI.

Social Media

Take Action

Make your voice heard and oppose the biased and prejudicial COI that singles out Israel

Please sign our petition and join over 7,000 who have already called on Navi Pillay to be recused as the chair of the UN inquiry, or share our tweets on social media.

Navi Pillay Lobbies to Boycott 'Apartheid Israel'—She Can't Chair UN's Israel Inquiry

Navi Pillay is on record calling Israel an “apartheid state,” has campaigned to boycott and sanction Israel, and signs statements lobbying governments to punish the Jewish state.

It is therefore a travesty of justice for her to serve as Chair of the new United Nations inquiry into last spring’s Hamas-Israel war. She must resign immediately, or be removed.

Accordingly, we are calling on Ms. Pillay to recuse herself. In the event that she refuses to do so, we request Federico Villegas, the President of the Human Rights Council, to remove her.

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