Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Warning on War Crimes

A warning was issued today from the UN:

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today expressed grave concern over the continued killing and maiming of civilians in Lebanon, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory and called for accountability for any breaches of international law.

The High Commissioner recalled that parties to a conflict have the obligation to exercise precaution and respect the principle of proportionality in all military operations so as to prevent unnecessary suffering among the civilian population. "Indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians", she said. "Similarly, the bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable".

"International humanitarian law is clear on the supreme obligation to protect civilians during hostilities", the High Commissioner said. "This obligation is also expressed in international criminal law, which defines war crimes and crimes against humanity".

"International law demands accountability. The scale of the killings in the region, and their predictability, could engage the personal criminal responsibility of those involved, particularly those in a position of command and control".