Malawi—a bona fide member of the United Nations (UN)—last week voted that the UN Human Rights Council should not establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel where it is clearly apparent that rights of people have been grossly debased, and thousands of lives have been lost.
But fortunately, Malawi’s wish could not pass as those in favour carried the day meaning the inquiry will still be commissioned.
Malawi and her former colonial master the United Kingdom voted against the inquiry as well as Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Germany, Marshall Islands and Uruguay.
14 member states made abstentions, while 24 voted in favour during a day’s session in Geneva.
It also seems Malawi took a passive participation as it was not among the 75 countries that took to the floor.
Renowned socio-political commentator and Lilongwe-based renewable energy entrepreneur, Lyson Sibande, said Malawi’s decision “is a huge blunder and a miscalculation on foreign policy by the Chakwera administration.”
He explained in an interview with Nyasa Times on Saturday that foreign policy being a tool of forging strategic bilateral partnership and building a positive image about the country on geopolitical and global relations then it was imperative for Malawi not to take a NO stand.
“In fact, Malawi should not have voted at all. I know the Chakwera administration is very committed to do whatever it takes to protect whatever interests it has with Israel, hence the very strange behaviour towards Israel, including the decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem, which defies international position since state members of the UN had already voted against,” said Sibande.
He added: “If you recall, Malawi had abstained from voting on that resolution [for member states to open embassies in Jerusalem]. The Chakwera administration should have done the same on this one. It’s not good to seem to openly take sides on such issues of conflict.”
According to Sibande, a scholar and published author, the decision speaks a lot about the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) arrogance when it comes defiant on bilateral relations.
Between the 60s and 90s Malawi had also defied all odds and became the only government in Africa to maintain relations with apartheid South Africa.
Warned Sibande: “Whatever interests Malawi stands to benefit from Israel, the Chakwera administration is diving in way too deep for our own good.”
‘UNHRC resolution to inquire’
According to UNHRC, the resolution (A/HRC/S-30/L.1), adopted by a vote of 24 in favour, 9 against and 14 abstentions, the Council decides to urgently establish an ongoing independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law leading up to and since 13 April 2021, and all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.
A statement available on the Council’s website also calls upon all relevant parties to cooperate fully with the commission of inquiry and to facilitate its access.
“It urges all States to refrain from transferring arms when they assess, in accordance with applicable national procedures and international obligations and standards, that there is a clear risk that such arms might be used in the commission or facilitation of serious violations or abuses of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law,” reads the statement.
Situation in Occupied Palestine
Speakers at the Thursday meeting said people in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank needed their leaders to make courageous steps towards peace.
According to the discussion, the indiscriminate barrage of rockets fired by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad into Israel were completely unacceptable.
“Other speakers said the Council must do three things: address the root causes of the conflict; call the situation what it was, apartheid and persecution, that is crimes against humanity; and end impunity by creating a standing mechanism – because the problems were systemic, long-lasting and would not be solved overnight. It was unconscionable that States including the United States, Germany and Italy still supplied weapons and other military assistance to the Israeli Government, despite the clear risk of serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
“Some speakers, expressing their full solidarity with Israel, said they refused to support any investigation or mechanism that victimized and exonerated Hamas and other violent organizations. There had been an explosion of anti-Semitism in past weeks, the result of the anti-Semitic vilification of Israel, to which the Council provided cover,” reads a report by UNHRC.
Malawians not amused
Some Malawians have questioned the country’s decision to vote against the commission of inquiry with some wondering whether it could be because of President Lazarus Chakwera’s interest to establish diplomatic ties with Jerusalem.
Few days after the decision, Palestine wrote to Chakwera to reverse his plan of opening the Malawi Embassy in the Holy City of Jerusalem in Israel.
Dr. Chakwera’s plan to have an embassy in the city met strong resistance within and outside the country.
Palestinian envoy to Malawi Jarrar upon arrival in the country earlier this year had said “any step taken to establish a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem constituted a violation of relevant United Nations resolutions.”
Nyasa Times reported days ago, though, in which Chakwera said was friends with both Palestine and Israel.
Bashir Nkoma argued on his Facebook wall that “if he [Chakwera] is friends with both nations why could he not investigate reasons for the stalemate before allowing his government to go for the NO vote?”
Youth and Society (YAS) executive director, Charles Kajoloweka, said in an interview that they would “issue a joint statement with [the Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation] CHRR on the same [soon].”
The meeting was the thirtieth special session of the Human Rights Council, which was requested by 69 States, of whom 21 are Member States of the Council and 48 are Observer States.
The forty-seventh regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 21 June to 15 July 2021.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :