Today, the UN Human Rights Council is discussing the recent report prepared by Richard Goldstone, a South African jurist and former UN war crimes prosecutor. Mr. Goldstone led a UN inquiry into the January Gaza conflict and found that both Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
These findings shouldn’t come as a surprise to any objective observer. The images and news reports that came out of the region and its history have made it clear that civilians are the ones who always end up paying the highest price.
Regarding the ongoing violence in the Middle East, Judge Richard Goldstone, whose passion about the rule of law was shaped by the Holocaust, declared today that “the lack of accountability for war crimes and possible war crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point; the ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence.”
The Gaza conflict and the Goldstone report remind the world that there is no military solution to the conflict in the Middle East. Military incursions provide a false sense of security while in fact, they undermine the security they claim to seek. The sooner the world comes to term with that, the closer we get to a peaceful resolution.
There is a lesson here for Canadian policy makers. Canada must always call on all sides to end military hostility and demand for peaceful negotiations. It is difficult to understand, especially after this report, why Canada would hesitate before calling for a ceasefire.
Every additional day that rockets are used, innocent lives are being destroyed and peace prospects are diminishing.
This rule of thumb for Canadian policy must apply to all conflicts around the world. We must always push to end violence and promote peaceful mediation that respects the rule of law.
This was my speech at the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament during the Israeli-Lebanon conflict in 2006
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