India abstained on a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council proposing to set up a Commission of Inquiry into violations surrounding the latest violence in Gaza, but also of “systematic” abuses in Palestinian territories and inside Israel. India was joined by 13 other members who abstained. With 24 voting in favour and nine against, the resolution was adopted in Geneva.

What

  1. India has dropped its stock phrase of its strong support to the “just Palestinian cause” in its statement at the UNHRC on 27 May 2021 — which used to be part of Indian statements in the past. This signals a slight nuanced shift away from Palestine, and towards Israel.
  2. The last time the Permanent Representative (PR) of India to the UN made a statement in New York at the UN Security Council on 16 May 2021, the statement had said, “I reiterate India’s strong support to the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the two-State solution.”
  3. This omission of the phrase “strong support to just Palestinian cause” was first made on 20 May 2021, when India’s PR to the UN made a statement at UNGA, where he did not mention the phrase.
  4. New Delhi has always voiced its support for the Palestinian cause in an explicit manner, and this shift has been perceived by many diplomats.
  5. Among other countries that abstained are France, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Netherlands, Poland and South Korea.
  6. Among those voting in favour of the resolution are Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Russia, while Germany, the UK, Austria, among others, voted against it.

What the resolution said?

  1. This resolution ordered the launching of an investigation into violations surrounding the latest violence, but also into "systematic" abuses spurring a repetitive cycle of violence over the decades.
  2. The council agreed to establish "an ongoing independent, international commission of inquiry... in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel".
  3. The investigators, the text said, should probe "underlying root causes of recurrent tensions and instability, including systematic discrimination and repression based on group identity".
  4. The investigation should focus on establishing facts and gather evidence for legal proceedings, and should aim to identify perpetrators to ensure they are held accountable.
  5. It also urges countries to "refrain from transferring arms when they assess... that there is a clear risk that such arms might be used in the commission or facilitation of serious violations or abuses."
  6. This vote created the council's first ever open-ended commission of inquiry (COI) -- the highest-level investigation that can be ordered by the council.
  7. Other COIs, like the one in Syria, need their mandates renewed every year.