SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

NEW YORK

British-Lebanese human rights lawyer and Hollywood superstar George Clooney’s fiancée Amal Alamuddin has declined to be part of a three-member UN commission to probe Israeli war crimes in Gaza, citing prior commitments.

The UN panel, already denounced by Israel, is tasked to possible violations of the rules of war during the Israeli offensive against Hamas. Turning down the offer from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Lebanese- born lawyer said: I am horrified by the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, particularly the civilian casualties and strongly believe that there should be an independent investigation and accountability for crimes that have been committed. The UN’s Geneva-based Human Rights Council announced that she would serve on a three-member commission of inquiry. But hours later Clooney’s Hollywood agent, Stan Rosenfield, issued a statement on Alamuddin’s behalf saying she had declined the post because of her pressing engagements, according to media reports. ‘I was contacted by the UN about this for the first time this morning. I am honoured to have received the offer, but given existing commitments - including eight ongoing cases – unfortunately could not accept this role. I wish my colleagues who will serve on the commission courage and strength in their endeavours.’ Gabon ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella, who is president of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, made the announcement of her appointment.

The announcement said Alamuddin would serve alongside Doudou Diene of Senegal, a lawyer who has filled UN posts on racism and human rights in Ivory Coast, and Canada’s William Schabas, an international law professor at Middlesex University in London .The team will be asked to file its report with the UNHRC in March 2015.