Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Letter of resignation

Here is my letter of resignation from the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza Conflict.

7 comments:

Geoff Kl said...

in your opinion, does a trier of fact ever have to recuse himself due to the appearance of a conflict of interest?

Don Ferencz said...

A sad moment for those who know the value of your gifts, including integrity, impartiality, common sense, and a commitment to the betterment of mankind.

Don Ferencz said...

Dear Bill:

I’m struck that no comments have, as yet, been posted on this blog relative to your recent resignation from the Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza Conflict, and wonder if perhaps your simple posting of the resignation letter may have tacitly signalled that this was not a subject on which further public commentary was particularly encouraged or considered helpful to the ongoing work of the Commission. If so, I certainly respect that (and, if that is the case, would certainly not be offended in any way if this potential posting is left unposted).

Those who know you well will certainly share a sense of frustration and loss that you, who have been an established voice of principled reason on behalf of the fundamental rights of humankind, should find yourself targeted. That you were chosen for the unpaid post by Navi Pillay, the former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, is certainly an endorsement of a track record giving ample reason to believe that you would undertake the Chair’s position with a view to presenting the facts so as to let them speak for themselves.

Your reputation for “telling it like it is”, rather than catering to the interests of those around you is known to many. That obviously makes some people uncomfortable. In my view, the detractors who have attacked your integrity as well as that of the Council itself “doth protest too much” – running the very real risk of appearing to perhaps have reasons for preferring that the world community not cast too bright a light on the means by which both parties to the Gaza conflict conduct themselves.

Before closing, and for completeness as to my own biases, I would like to briefly share two personal anecdotes.

In 1968 I visited Israel as a teenager, arriving at what was then known as Lod airport. I recall vividly my own reaction to setting foot on Israeli soil for the first time: I immediately and instinctively knelt down there on the tarmac, with tears welling in my eyes, and kissed the ground in the land of my ancestors. I am no enemy of Israel.

32 years later, I read of a Palestinian couple who, while driving home to the West Bank from working in Israel, had their car strafed by bullets at a checkpoint, leaving the husband an invalid and the wife dead. Their 15 year old son decried the fact that despite their family’s loss, no one seemed to care. (“Jaba Journal; A Soldier's Shot Leaves a House Empty at Its Heart”, The New York Times, 21 April 2000, available online at http://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/21/world/jaba-journal-a-soldier-s-shot-leaves-a-house-empty-at-its-heart.html). I immediately and instinctively wrote to them, offering what personal assistance I could, with the message that there are people who do, indeed, care. I have remained in touch with the family ever since.

The ancient exhortation of the Prophet Micah to do justly and to love mercy will surely be familiar to many in the conflict and, I believe, implies caring for all who are caught up in it. It’s not a matter of passing judgment to say that the cycle of violence in the region can only end if and when understanding and tolerance prevail on both sides and when the illegal use of force – by whomsoever undertaken – is curtailed. Caring to understand the facts as to what has occurred is a critical step on that path.

I offer this post with thanks for your service and to those on the Commission for their continuing work in helping to make such understanding a reality –

Don

Juan Manuel Portilla Gomez said...

Very bad news not just for Gaza but for human rights. A great chance of finding the true has been cancelled. Profesor Schabas reputation as a legal expert is based on impartíality and fairness.

Juan Manuel Portilla Gomez said...

Very bad news not just for Gaza but for human rights. A great chance of finding the true has been cancelled. Profesor Schabas reputation as a legal expert is based on impartíality and fairness.

María Ella said...

Doctor Schabas I will like to know your opinion on Palestine acceptance as an ICC State Party and a possibility of a case referral.

María Ella said...

Doctor Schabas I will like to know your opinion on Palestine acceptance as an ICC State Party and a possibility of a case referral.