An open letter to the authors of the Chatham House Report on the Goldstone Report
Wilmshurst (Chair); Professor Matthew Craven; Dr Catriona Drew; Professor Charles
Garraway; Professor Steven Haines; Professor Francoise Hampson; and Professor
Sir Nigel Rodley.
From Maurice Ostroff
December 20, 2009
Report of an Expert Meeting which Assessed Procedural Criticisms made of the UN Fact- Finding Mission
on the Gaza Conflict (The Goldstone Report)
Your measured and balanced report in the Chatham House
spirit of independent analysis, informed debate and influential ideas, is indeed a welcome change from the hyperbole, characteristic
of some of the dissertations on the Goldstone report that abound in the media. Having studied the Goldstone report in some
detail I intend to submit a few comments to you, but in this letter I confine myself to one disturbing aspect. Evidence
Your report states that the meeting addressed the criticism that witnesses heard by the Goldstone Mission
were pre-screened and pre-selected. I add that the UN Fact-finding Mission (FFM) was evidently also highly selective in choosing
which of the available evidence to address in depth and which to ignore completely. For example it failed to address several
submissions it had received from members of the public and NGO's, which contradicted the report's conclusions. These ignored
memoranda included submissions by a group of fifteen Australian lawyers, Take-a-Pen, Yvonne Green, NGO Monitor, Dr. Elihu
Richter, Ian Lacey, Bnai Brith and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, as well as the writer of this letter, among others.
In view of the credibility of the authors and the serious and sincere nature of their submissions it is disturbing
that their representations were rejected without being addressed, even superficially. Moreover neither the UNHRC nor the GA
was apprised of the inconvenient contents of these memoranda which may well have influenced their votes on endorsement of
the Goldstone report.
In the circumstances, I trust that you will agree unhesitatingly that it would be a serious
failure of common justice if the UN Security Council considers the Goldstone Report before all available relevant evidence
is made available.
In open email correspondence with Judge Goldstone he readily agreed to support my request
that all memoranda received by the FFM be made available on the FFM's web site for the benefit of the public and more importantly
for members of the UNHRC, the Security Council and the General Assembly. It is indeed strange that the OHCHR secretariat refuses
to comply with Judge Goldstone's agreement that this be done.
Below is the text of a reply I received from the
Secretariat on October 24, 2009.
- "In relation to your query as to whether the submissions made to the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza
Conflict in response to the Mission's call of 8 June 2009 would be posted on the UNFFMGC webpage, after further reviewing
the material, we have concluded that it would not be appropriate to post them. The reason is that some of the submissions
include names of individuals who are indicated as sources of some of the information provided, without indication of their
consent to be named publicly. In doubt, and out of respect for those individuals, it would not be possible to make such
information public. In the circumstances, doing otherwise would be contrary to established practice with regard to source
protection. Rather than being selective in posting information, we have preferred to adopt one standard and all submissions
will be retained in the Mission's archives, together with all other documentation received by the Mission. It goes without
saying that it remains the prerogative of the authors of the submissions that do not present such problems to publicize them
as they consider most appropriate. We have already indicated so to those submitting organizations who have inquired about
the same matter".
The reason given by the secretariat is clearly unacceptable as it directly conflicts with
the spirit of the FFM's published call for submissions which states unambiguously "Unless otherwise indicated by the author,
the Mission will assume that submissions can be made public."
It is also relevant to mention that in the
acknowledgment I received from the OHCHR to a memorandum I sent as an attachment, a note was added to the effect that the
attachment had been deleted.
If you wish to verify the above information, I will gladly supply the email address
and telephone number of the person at the OHCHR with whom the above mentioned correspondence took place.
research is core to all Chatham House activities, I trust you will agree that the Goldstone Report cannot be subjected to
the independent and rigorous analysis for which Chatham house is known, while portion of the evidence received by the FFM
continues to be withheld from public scrutiny.
This open letter will be published as will any replies I hope
to receive from you