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Letter to the UN Secretary-General on the Goldstone report

18 November 2009

Mr Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General

Geneva, 18 November 2009

Your Excellency,
Dear Mr Secretary General,

I write this letter to convey to you our appreciation for the efforts leading to the adoption of the resolution endorsing the recommendations of the Goldstone report at the UN General Assembly in its recent session.

Your Excellency, we are of the opinion that the overwhelming support and majority votes at the General Assembly in favour of the recommendations of the Goldstone report are the expression of the will of the international community to ensure that perpetrators of war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law should not be allowed to evade justice. We also note with satisfaction that you have called on Palestinians and Israelis immediately to begin “credible domestic investigations into the conduct of the Gaza conflict without delay.”

The World Council of Churches has been following the situation in Israel and Palestine for a long time. In a rather harsh and dismal situation, we restate our understanding that, during the Gaza War, civilians on both sides suffered and yet atrocities were significantly higher among the Palestinian population. The people of Gaza have suffered enough, and they deserve a respite in the knowledge that the perpetrators of indiscriminate violence against them will be brought to book. In this context, the World Council of Churches (WCC) believes that if the recommendations of the Goldstone report were pursued, it would send a strong message to combatants in all conflicts that nations or groups cannot act with impunity, and that there must be appropriate channels of accountability for the perpetrators of crimes in any form of conflict. The general lack of accountability for war crimes and the culture of impunity in the whole Middle East region have prevented the peace process from reaching its aims and have paved the way for increasing all kinds of extremism and indiscriminate acts of violence.

While we share the opinion that the Goldstone Commission report and its recommendations are an adequate and important source of guidance for the international community, we believe that it will also be a helpful instrument in pursuing further investigations and thus advancing justice for those who were victims of the war. There is a growing anxiety among a wide section of people in the international community who are striving to build a world rooted in peace with justice that the Goldstone Commission’s report may be impeded if some countries oppose the report at the level of the Security Council, or that there could be a resolution that dilutes the intent and scope of the Goldstone report. It is for this reason that we urge Your Excellency to initiate such steps as may create a platform where, through dialogue, both Israel and Hamas will unconditionally concede the need for complete and credible investigations into their actions during the war. Such consensus becomes urgent at a time when the entire international community is looking for a just reconciliation and peace in the Middle East. In this context, the need of the hour is an unequivocal affirmation of the highest principles of justice, human rights and humanitarian practices which will ensure the aspirations of the people to live in peace with justice and dignity.

Your Excellency, the World Council of Churches has long held the position that durable peace, reconciliation and healing between Palestinians and Israelis should be based on justice. We now urge you to use your good offices to ensure that the United Nations acts as the guarantor of the protection of human rights and justice in Palestine and Israel through firm and decisive action.

Yours Sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia
General Secretary