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Homechevron_rightWorldchevron_rightMary McGowan Davis to...

Mary McGowan Davis to head UNHRC Gaza probe

Mary McGowan Davis to head UNHRC Gaza probe

Geneva: UN Human Rights Council has appointed former US judge Mary McGowan Davis as the new head of a UN inquiry into the 50-day Gaza conflict last year, replacing William Schabas who quit this week after a controversy.

India along with other BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia China and South Africa - had voted in favour of a resolution to launch a probe into Israel's military action in the Gaza.

The Gaza conflict ended with a truce on August 26 after the deaths of more than 2,140 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Davis has served on a 2010 three person panel to monitor Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the UNHRC’s Goldstone Report, which probed human rights violations during the IDF's incursion into Gaza in January 2009.

Her appointment came a day after Schabas resigned from the commission after Israel accused him of bias due to consultancy work he did for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.

Canadian international law expert Schabas sent the resignation letter to the head of the UN Human Rights Council, said council spokesman Rolando Gomez.

In his letter, Schabas explained that Israel's complaint was linked to a brief legal opinion he had prepared for the PLO in October, 2012.

Schabas had done some consultancy work for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in October 2012 and had been paid USD 1300.

"The complaint about my brief consultancy, as I understand it, is not about the content, which is of a technical legal nature, but the implication that in some way I am henceforth beholden to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation," he wrote.

President of the Human Rights Council Joachim Ruecker accepted the resignation saying that "in this way even the appearance of a conflict of interest is avoided, thus preserving the integrity of the process."

The Committee now consists of Davis, a US judge and Doudou Diène, a Senagalese jurist, both of whom were appointed in August last year.

The inquiry's panel which was commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR) will present its report as scheduled on March 23 despite demands from the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to scrap the report.

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