28th Special Session of the Human Rights Council

General Debate: Australian National Statement

Australia expresses its deep regret and sadness at the loss of life and injury that occurred during the protests in Gaza.

We send our sincere condolences to the many families who have lost loved ones.

It is particularly tragic that a number of those who were killed were children.

The situation on the Gaza perimeter was both serious and complex.

Australia is firmly of the view that Israel has legitimate security concerns, and has the right to protect its population. It should also exercise appropriate restraint in the use of force.

The role of Hamas in inciting the situation on the Gaza perimeter must not be ignored.

Australia is of the view that investigations into incidents where international law may have been breached must be independent and impartial. Any inquiry must be demonstrably impartial, thorough, and transparent. All relevant parties should cooperate.

We are therefore giving serious and detailed consideration to all specific proposals for external investigation mechanisms into the situation surrounding the recent protests on the Gaza Strip’s perimeter.

We are considering proposals on their merits, with a particular focus on whether the investigation is genuinely independent and impartial. This is the approach we have taken on this resolution and the commission of inquiry it seeks to establish.

The violence on the Gaza perimeter underlines the importance of a return to negotiations toward a two-state solution so an enduring peace can be found.

Australia is strongly committed to a two-state solution, where Israel and a future Palestinian state exist side-by-side in peace and security within internationally recognised borders.

We do not support actions that diminish this prospect.

Throughout our membership of the Human Rights Council, Australia will continue to urge all states and parties to conflict to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Statement to the General Debate of the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council [PDF 107 KB]

Explanation of vote before the vote

Australia’s position on this resolution is guided by the conviction that investigations into incidents where international law may have been breached must be independent and impartial. Australia has strongly supported such investigations. We have done so recently in relation to allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria.

However, we have serious concerns that this resolution remains one-sided, leaving the inquiry that the resolution seeks to establish open to criticism and accusations of bias.

The resolution’s language prejudges an outcome of the inquiry.

The resolution and any inquiry must also acknowledge the role of Hamas in the recent events. As it stands, Israel is mentioned throughout while Hamas is not mentioned at all.

Further, the inquiry’s geographical mandate apparently covers the entirety of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and includes part of Jerusalem, over an unlimited time period. This resolution overreaches and, in doing so, fails to give the events that have transpired on the Gaza perimeter the specific attention they deserve.

I reiterate that Australia is of the view that investigations into allegations of breaches of international law must be independent and impartial. That is what our goal should be today. As it stands, we are very concerned that this resolution does not achieve this.

For these reasons, Australia will vote against this resolution.

Explanation of Vote for the Resolution on Violations of international law in the context of large-scale civilian protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem [PDF 61 KB]

Last Updated: 21 May 2018