My office doesn’t shame Govts, they shame themselves: UNHRC chief in farewell press conference

At a farewell press conference in UN headquarters on Thursday, UNHRC High Commissioner Zeid Ra’d Al Hussein defended his blatant criticisms on right abuses in dozen countries saying that his office doesn’t “bring shame on governments, they shame themselves.”

He said, “Silence does not earn you any respect -none.” He added that he will give his successor the same advice his predecessor, Navi Pillay, gave him, “Be fair and don’t discriminate against any country” and “just come out swinging.”

Zeid said he leaves the post on August 31 very concerned about populism, intolerance and oppression “becoming fashionable again,” which could lead to conflict.

Earlier in July, during a video conference, Zeid briefed his committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, expressing grave concern over the rise of Palestinians being killed along the border between Gaza strip and Israel.

“I remind all parties that any disproportionate or indiscriminate use of weapons which lead to the death and injury of civilians is prohibited by international humanitarian law,” he said.

“Though the United Nations and the Government of Egypt have made efforts to maintain a ceasefire between Israel and the militant group Hamas which controls Gaza, the situation remains extremely fragile,” he said. “I urge the parties and all those with influence to do their utmost to avoid another round of violence and misery.”

He highlighted the dire conditions in which the people of Palestine were living in. He regretted that these regular waves of violence “compound the already extreme humanitarian crisis”, which he denounced as “entirely man-made and entirely preventable”, including “skyrocketing unemployment and poverty, crumbling infrastructure, record food-dependency and a bleak political horizon”.

He stated that the funding crisis currently faced by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) – which plays a crucial role in providing protection, education and health services as well as employment to the refugee populations – is likely to further aggravate the situation.

While talking about the recent killings along the Gaza strip, he said that the council had resolved in May to set up an independent and international Commission of Inquiry into the matter.

“It is essential that the authorities cooperate with the future Commission to advance accountability for these killings, as well as all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law”, Zeid said.

He also said that although “Israel has put in place a number of accountability mechanisms, there are serious concerns that these are not in compliance with the international standards of independence, impartiality, and effectiveness.”

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