GENEVA, Jan. 24, 2011 - The new membership of the UN Committee of Independent Experts* will meet for the first time in Geneva from 24-28 January to define its plan of action and establish contacts with relevant parties.
The Committee has been mandated by the Human Rights Council to continue monitoring and assessing Israeli and Palestinian investigations into the allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the Gaza conflict (December 2008- January 2009) reported by the UN Fact Finding Mission, led by Justice Richard Goldstone.
Justice Mary McGowan Davis*, a member of the original three-member panel, will now chair the committee, joined by a new member, Justice Lennart Aspegren**, who was appointed to replace two outgoing members of the original Committee by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
The two independent experts have been tasked by the UN Human Rights Council to present a report on the efforts undertaken by the state of Israel and the Palestinian side, during its 16th session in Geneva in March 2011. A first report was presented by the previous panel on 21 September 2010. The other two members of the original Committee, Professor Christian Tomuschat and Mr. Param Cumaraswamy, were unable to serve for a second term because of professional commitments.
The current members of the UN Committee of Independent Experts are:
* Justice Mary McGowan Davis (United States of America), who served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York and as a federal prosecutor during the course of a 24-year career in the criminal justice sector in New York City. She also has extensive experience in the fields of international human rights law and transitional justice. Justice Davis has been involved in mentoring and training of lawyers and judges in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mongolia, and Rwanda. She has also served as a consultant to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for the International Commission of Jurists and the International Judicial Academy, and serves on the Managerial Board of the International Association of Women Judges.
** Justice Lennart Aspegren (Sweden) began his career within the Swedish judicial system as a Magistrate in 1958. After serving in various courts of civil and criminal law, he was appointed Judge of the Svea Court of Appeal in 1979. Justice Aspegren also served as Legal Adviser to his Government, first within the Ministry of Finance. As from 1979, he was appointed Director-General for Legal Affairs, which since 1990 included International Affairs. Then, during 1992-1993, he was a Special Emissary of the Ministry of Justice to the three Baltic States. After that, from 1994 to 1995, he served as a judge at the Supreme Social Insurance Court, in addition to being Judge of the Swedish Labour Court 1980-1996. Justice Aspegren also chaired several governmental commissions of enquiry. From 1995 to 2000, he served as a Judge on the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The committee was established in 2009 by the Human Rights Council (resolution 13/9), acting on the basis of UN General Assembly resolution 64/254, with a mandate to "monitor and assess any domestic, legal or other proceedings undertaken by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side… including the independence, effectiveness, genuineness of these investigations and their conformity with international standards."
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