Dear Secretary-General,

I am writing about General Assembly resolution 64/10, passed on November 5, 2009, which endorsed the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, and in particular the importance of substantive reporting by your office in accordance with the resolution.

Most notably, the resolution calls on the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to undertake within three months "independent, credible investigations" that are "in conformity with international standards" into the allegations of laws-of-war violations. Human Rights Watch has long called on both parties to conduct such investigations after documenting serious violations of international humanitarian law, including alleged war crimes.

The resolution also requests that you report back to the General Assembly within three months on implementation of the resolution, with a view to considering further action by relevant UN organs and bodies. I believe it is essential that you satisfy that request with a fact-based, analytic, evaluative report that looks in detail at the steps taken by both parties to conduct credible investigations.

In particular, your report should go beyond a presentation of the parties' claims and should evaluate whether they have indeed undertaken independent, credible investigations in accordance with the appropriate international standards. A report that merely transmits information from the parties would not advance discussions on this crucial issue and would fail to satisfy the General Assembly's request. 

As highlighted by numerous countries during the General Assembly debate-including those that abstained from voting-breaking the culture of impunity that has permeated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essential to achieve a lasting peace. The Goldstone report and November 5 General Assembly resolution provide an opportunity to pursue that goal. I urge you to implement the responsibilities set forth in the resolution with this in mind, including a determination on the adequacy of the parties' investigations.

This January you spoke forcefully in favor of investigations and accountability for violations of international law in the context of Gaza.  And on October 28 you supported the Goldstone report and accountability, saying "wherever and whenever there is violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian laws, there should be necessary investigation and the perpetrators of these crimes and violation of human rights should be held accountable." We welcome and commend this stance. And we believe that an objective, analytical report, with your imprimatur, that assesses the progress made by the Israeli and Hamas authorities towards conducting independent investigations, as urged by the General Assembly, will provide an important contribution towards accountability.

Sincerely yours,

Kenneth Roth

Executive Director