George Clooney’s fiancé, lawyer Amal Alamuddin, has turned down a role investigating possible war crimes by Israel.
The international human rights lawyer was chosen by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of violations of the rules of war in Gaza.
Beirut-born Alamuddin, a barrister specialising in international law, human rights, extradition and criminal law, has been a legal adviser to the UN in a number of its previous investigations. She previously represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and was legal advisor to former secretary-general Kofi Annan on the Syria conflict.
However the 36 year-old Oxford graduate turned down the appointment, saying she was too busy.
“I am honoured to have received the offer, but given existing commitments – including eight ongoing cases – unfortunately could not accept this role,” said Alamuddin.
“I am horrified by the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, particularly the civilian casualties that have been caused, and strongly believe that there should be an independent investigation and accountability for crimes that have been committed.
“I wish my colleagues who will serve on the commission courage and strength in their endeavours.”
The London-based lawyer was due to join Doudou Diene of Senegal, a lawyer who has filled UN posts on racism and human rights in Ivory Coast, and William Schabas of Canada, an international law professor at Middlesex University.
The independent commission has been launched by the UN Human Rights Council “to investigate purported violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and particularly in the Gaza Strip since the conflict began on June 13.”
“The commission aims to establish the facts and circumstances of violations and crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible. It will also make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways to protect civilians against any further assaults.”
The Council decided – by a vote of 29 countries in favour – to launch the inquiry at its emergency meeting on July 23. The commission is to present a written report to the Human Rights Council at its session next March.
Yesterday, hopes for an end to the bloodshed were boosted after Israel and Hamas agreed to a fresh ceasefire.
The apparent breakthrough follows renewed violence since the last temporary deal lapsed.
More than a dozen Palestinians are said to have died in Israeli airstrikes over the weekend, while mortar and rocket fire from Gaza resumed.
But the Israeli military said no rockets have been fired at Israel today and it had not targeted any locations in the densely populated territory since the ceasefire went into effect at midnight local time.