UN casts Israel as only violator of health rights in the world

 

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By: Hillel C. Neuer
© 2015

GENEVA, May 20, 2015 - As Israeli hospitals continue their life-saving treatment for escalating numbers of wounded Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks, the U.N. reached new heights of absurdity today by accusing Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan.

By a vote of 104 to 4, with 6 abstentions and 65 absent, the Jewish state was the only country in the world to be singled out as a violator of health rights when its alleged victims were spotlighted by the annual assembly of the U.N.’s World Health Organization.

The resolution on the plight of Israel’s alleged victims, which was the 2015 assembly’s only treatment of a specific country situation, sent an unmistakable message when it ordered “health-related technical assistance” for “the Syrian population in the occupied Syrian Golan,” and when it called on the director-general of the World Health Organization to report on “the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” at next year’s session.

By calling for next year’s report to focus on “the effect of prolonged occupation and human rights violations on mental and physical health,” and particularly “the health consequences of the Israeli military detention system on Palestinian prisoners and detainees, especially child detainees, ” the UN frames and delegitimizes Israel’s defensive measures against terrorism as a presumed cause of mental and physical illness. The mandate for the report completely ignores actions by the PA, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others.

Continue reading ‘UN casts Israel as only violator of health rights in the world’

Philippe Val, Charlie Hebdo’s Former Editor, Wins Geneva Human Rights Prize

En francais: pour l’émouvant discours de Philippe Val, cliquez ici

GENEVA, May 17 – Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch awarded its prestigious annual human rights prize to Philippe Val, the French author, humorist, and former editor of Charlie Hebdo, “for having the courage to speak out when others were silent, defending democracy and the human right to live, think, and laugh.”

At a Geneva ceremony held on May 7, 2015, adjacent to the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, before an audience of UN ambassadors, Swiss political leaders and community leaders, Mr. Val received the 2015 Morris B. Abram Human Rights Award, named after the civil rights advocate, diplomat and UN delegate who founded the watchdog NGO in 1993.

Val speaking - for blog

“Human rights defenders in dictatorships deserve awards more than I do,” said Val, however, “it’s hard to defend human rights in democracies as well.” Continue reading ‘Philippe Val, Charlie Hebdo’s Former Editor, Wins Geneva Human Rights Prize’

UN Watch Condemns Saudi Bid to Head UN Rights Council, Urges World Leaders to Oppose “Oppressive, Fundamentalist Regime”

Saudi Salman and Ban

GENEVA, May 13, 2015 – The fundamentalist Saudi monarchy is seeking to head the world’s top human rights body, a move liable to be “the final nail in the coffin for the credibility of a body that already counts dictatorships like China, Cuba, and Russia as members, and whose top advisor is co-founder of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights group. 

“We urge U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and EU foreign minister Federica Mogherini to denounce this despicable act of cynicism by a regime that beheads people in the town square, systematically oppresses women, Christians, and gays, and jails innocent bloggers like Raif Badawi for the crime of challenging the rulers’ radical brand of Wahabbist Islam.” Continue reading ‘UN Watch Condemns Saudi Bid to Head UN Rights Council, Urges World Leaders to Oppose “Oppressive, Fundamentalist Regime”’

Dictatorships blast U.S. human rights record at U.N. review

Some of the world’s worst regimes blasted America’s human rights record at a review session held by the UN Human Rights Council yesterday. Every one of the UN’s 193 member states is obliged to undergo the drilling by its peers once every four years.

Sudan took the floor to say it was “concerned about the situation of the human rights in the United States of America,” and it urged Washington “to eliminate any form of racial discrimination” and “to bring its legislation and laws in line with human rights obligations.”

Continue reading ‘Dictatorships blast U.S. human rights record at U.N. review’

UN announces “review” of bookstore after protest over books targeting Jews and Israel

images from UN bookstore

GENEVA, April 30, 2015 - The head of the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva has initiated a review of its concession arrangement with the bookstore operating next to the Human Rights Council in response to allegations over book displays that deliberately target Jews and Israel.

The world body announced the action in response to a March 26th protest by UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights monitoring group in Geneva, over the bookstore’s display of a series of books such as “How I Stopped Being a Jew,” which accuses the Jewish religion of being “genocidal.” (See UN Watch’s March 26th letter at bottom for list of other titles.) The controversy was reported in a major Israeli newspaper article.

“We welcome this prompt action by the United Nations, which is founded on the principles of equality and tolerance,” said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer.

“At a time when Jews across Europe are being targeted by violent attacks and incitement, it is deeply distressing that the UN Headquarters in Europe would promote books on ‘how to stop being a Jew.’ It’s impossible to miss that no other books in the shop target or even criticize any other religious or ethnic group,” he added.

In its letter to  Neuer (see below), the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) announced that Acting Director-General Michael Moller “has initiated an administrative review by the relevant services at UNOG of the existing concession arrangements and related procedures.”

Saying that it “sensitive to the gist” of UN Watch’s complaint, the world body said that it has “reaffirmed” to the bookstore “the requirement that varied viewpoints be presented on the shop’s bookshelves,” to ensure that the choice of books in the UN shop is “diverse and balanced, as befits an outlet affiliated with the United Nations Organization.”

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Click here for PDF

United Nations Office at Geneva
CHEF DE CABINET

24 April 2015

Dear Mr. Neuer,

Thank you for your letter of 26 March 2015 addressed to the Acting Director- General of UNOG, expressing concern about the selection of books in the United Nations Bookshop at the Palais des Nations, which has been duly noted.

The bookshop is operated by a commercial vendor and the selection for sale at the bookshop of items other than United Nations publications and souvenirs bearing the UN logo, is not subject to a substantive vetting procedure by the United Nations. Nor does the selection by the management of the bookstore of printed material for sale constitute any endorsement by the United Nations of the outside publications, the responsibility for which lies with the author s and the relevant publishing house.

That said, and sensitive to the gist of your argument in the above-referenced letter, UNOG has reaffirmed to the vendor the requirement that varied viewpoints be presented on the shop’s bookshelves, as part of the ongoing effort to ensure that the choice of books on offer is diverse and balanced, as befits an outlet affiliated with the United Nations Organization.

In addition, the Acting Director-General has initiated an administrative review by the relevant services at UNOG of the existing concession arrangements and related procedures.

Yours sincerely,
David A. Chikvaidze

—————

March 26th Letter by UN Watch director
Hillel Neuer to the United Nations
PDF

Michael Moller
Acting Director-General
United Nations Office at Geneva
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10

26 March 2015

Dear Mr. Moller,

UN Watch is deeply concerned by the highly suspect selection of books featured in the United Nations Bookshop, and we urge you to investigate. (Photos are enclosed.)

Perusing the shelf displays, one cannot miss the carefully orchestrated line-up of anti-American and anti-Israeli book titles, from “Reflections on Israel’s War Against Palestinians” to “The Punishment of Gaza.” Worse, the UN bookshop—situated just below the Human Rights Council prominently displays a book entitled “How I Stopped Being a Jew.” The author accuses the Jewish religion of a “genocidal Yahwestic tradition.”

Let us be clear: under no circumstances whatsoever would we presume to dictate to the UN bookshop which books to sell. We unflinchingly support the freedom of expression and full exchange of ideas, good and bad. Yet the unmistakable pattern of anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish books is a matter that requires your attention. We recall the promise of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the historic 2004 United Nations gathering against anti- Semitism: “The fight against anti-Semitism must be our fight,” said Mr. Annan, “and Jews everywhere must feel that the United Nations is their home, too.” As I am sure you will agree, the selective offering of one-sided and inflammatory books that demean Israelis and Jews does not contribute to the culture of acceptance promised by Mr. Annan.

At a time when Jews across Europe are being targeted by violent attacks and incitement, it is deeply distressing that the United Nations Headquarters in Europe would promote books on “how to stop being a Jew.” Significantly, we note there are no other books in the shop targeting or criticizing any other religious or ethnic group.

Numerous visitors pass through the UN bookshop every day, including young students who take the UN tour in order to learn about the UN Charter values of equality, tolerance and peace. We urge the United Nations to live up to its founding values, and to prevent yet another UN institution from falling victim to selectivity and politicization. We sincerely hope that you will investigate this serious matter, and take remedial action as necessary.

Yours truly,

Hillel Neuer
Executive Director

Explosive: UN admits Palestinians fired rockets from UNRWA schools

 

RocketlauncherUNbldgQassam

The UN finally investigated the Palestinian storing of rockets in UNRWA schools and their use of the schools to launch rockets against Israel, all of which constitute grave violations of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law.

Key findings gleaned from the UN report:

  • Hamas and/or Islamic Jihad stored rockets in UNRWA schools. The board found, in the case of the UNRWA Jabalia Elementary “C” and Ayyobiya Boys School, referring to the discovery of weapons there on 22 July 2014, that “it was highly likely that a Palestinian armed group might have used the premises to hide weapons.”
  • Hamas and/or Islamic Jihad stored rockets in schools that were in active use by children. During the war, former PLO lawyer Diana Buttu famously said on Al Jazeera that “the rockets that were found in the schools in UNRWA were schools that are not being used by anybody—school is out, I’ll have you know.” However, in the UNRWA Gaza Beach Elementary Co-educational “B” School, on 16 July 2014, the UN Board of Inquiry notes that the school gate was unlocked during the period leading up to the incident “in order to allow children access to the schoolyard.” School was out, but UNRWA was inviting the children back in to play.
  •  Hamas and/or Islamic Jihad fired rockets from UNRWA schools. In the Jabalia school listed above, the board found that “it was highly likely that an unidentified Palestinian armed group could have used the school premises to launch attacks on or around 14 July.” Similarly, concerning weaponry stored at the UNRWA Nuseirat Preparatory Co- educational “B” School, the UN inquiry found that “the premises could have been used for an unknown period of time by members of a Palestinian armed group”  — and that “it was likely that such a group may have fired the mortar from within the premises of the school.”

Extracts follow below.

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Extracts  from the UN report on rockets stored in and fired from UNRWA facilities

Incident (h): Presence of weaponry at the UNRWA Gaza Beach Elementary Co- educational “B” School on 16 July 2014

49. Gaza Beach Elementary Co-educational “B” School is located in the heart of the Beach refugee camp, in the midst of a densely populated area of Gaza city. Four other UNRWA schools and an UNRWA health centre are located on the opposite side of the street. The school buildings are enclosed by a wall and there is one main gate. On two of its four sides, the schoolyard is surrounded by houses, which are built on the school’s boundary wall. These houses have windows opening on to the schoolyard on their lower floors; and one house connects with the schoolyard through a gate. Also next to the school, adjacent to the house with the connecting gate, is a private building, whose main gate is located next to the school’s gate. This house was bombed during Operation Protective Edge, prior to the incident.

50. Due to the summer vacation, the school was not in use at the time of Operation Protective Edge, nor was it used as a designated emergency shelter.

51. The Board was informed that two UNRWA school attendants were looking arier the school prior to and on the day of the incident. One worked the morning shift and the other, the afternoon. Five guards hired as part of UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme (JCP) were also assigned to the school, one worldng the morning shift and the other four sharing the night shift in pairs of two. In addition, the school principal inspected all the classrooms on some days.

52. The Board was informed that one of the school attendants had testified that he had performed his normal duties prior to and on the day of the incident. The other had testified that, for safety reasons, he was told to stay away fi’om the school and to relocate to the health centre across the street and watch the school from there. Prior to and on the day of the incident, the JCP guards were also not at the school, but at the health centre, in accordance with the same instruction. The Board was informed that an UNRWA official had issued this instruction for fear that the building next door to the school would be shelled again.

53. The Board was informed that the school gate was unlocked during the period leading up to the incident in order to allow children access to the schoolyard. It was also informed that there were two sets of keys to the classrooms, one for the morning shift and the other for the afternoon. One set of keys was kept in the school principal’s office. It was unclear where the other set was kept.

54. A team of Operations Support Officers (OSO) had inspected the school on 2 June as part of a regular inspection programme for all UNRWA facilities, designed to prevent breaches of their “neutrality”. No weapons or signs of militant activity had been reported by the team during that inspection. No further inspections had been conducted by OSO teams after that date due to the declaration by UNRWA’s Gaza Field Office of a state of emergency on 8 July. The OSO teams had then ceased to operate and their members been assigned to other, emergency-related functions.

55. On 16 July 2015, a 120 MM mortar tube, a mortar bipod and twenty 120 MM mortar-round containers, with ammunition, were discovered under a blanket in the corner of a locked classroom. The weapom’y was photographed.

56. UNRWA senior management notified the local authorities in Gaza and asked that the weapons be removed. The United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) contacted the Special Protection Unit (SPU) of the local police and also asked that the weapons be removed, apparently through the local police’s explosive ordnance detachment. The SPU asked that the United Nations guarantee that the IDF would not strike while the weapons were being removed and that a United Nations vehicle be used to remove the weapons. DSS refused.

57. The Board was informed that UNRWA had received testimony that two individuals identifying themselves as policemen had come to the school, alleged that they knew who was responsible for the cache of weapons and left a telephone number. Upon being contacted, one of these individuals stated that the weapons would be removed fi’om the school in the early morning. The Board was further informed that, early in the morning of 17 July, the door to the classroom in question was found locked, with no signs of forced entry or exit, and that it was noted that the weapons had been removed.

58. On 17 July, UNRWA informed Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the finding of the weapons and their subsequent disappearance. In the afternoon of 17 July, UNRWA issued a press release stating that a cache of approximately 20 rockets (sic) had been found hidden in a vacant school. Under a misapprehension that the explosive ordnance detachment of the local police had removed the weapom’y, the press release stated that UNRWA had informed the relevant parties and had successfully taken all necessary measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school.

59. The Board found that, in the light of the situation in the vicinity, the security measures at the school were weak prior to and on the day of the incident, partly due to the fact that the personnel charged with the school’s security were subject to life-threatening circumstances. It also found that an unidentified Palestinian armed group had used the school premises to hide the weaponry.

Incident (i): Presence of weaponry at the UNRWA Jabalia Elementary “C” and Ayyobiya Boys School on 22 July 2014

60. The Jabalia Elementary “C” and Ayyobiya Boys School is one in a row of five schools situated in an urban area to the east of the Jabalia refugee camp. Behind the school is a large open area with small-scale agricultural land. The Board was informed that this area was known for its use as a firing site for armed groups and that it had been targeted by the IDF in past conflicts.

61. The school was never identified in UNRWA’s emergency management plan as a potential shelter due to security and safety concerns. At the time of the incident, it was in recess for the summer.

62. The Board was informed that the school normally employed four school attendants, but that, at the time of the incident, ttu’ee of them were absent. One school attendant resided at the school, but was on leave at the time and, afraid, spent most of his time indoors. In addition, the Board was informed that five guards hired as part of UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme (JCP) had been assigned to the school and were scheduled to work there from evening to morning. However, at the time of the incident, none of them was at the school. The school has one main gate, which, the Board was informed, was not usually locked. The school wall is not high enough to prevent intruders from climbing into the school.

63. A team of Operations Support Officers (OSO) had inspected the school on 12 May as part of the regular inspection programme for all UNRWA facilities described above.

No issues had been identified that compromised the neutrality of the premises. No further inspections had been conducted by OSO teams after that date for the reasons outlined above.

64. However, following the discovery of weaponry at the Gaza Beach Elementary Co-educational “B” School on 16 July, UNRWA management issued an instruction on 17 July that daily inspections be conducted of all UNRWA schools, including those that were not being used as shelters, to ensure that no weapons were being stored in them and that they were not being abused. Two UNRWA staff members were then tasked to conduct daily inspections of all schools in the area concerned. School attendants present at the schools were instructed to ensure that the daily inspections were conducted. The Board was informed that the school had been inspected on 19 July and that nothing unusual had been found, though not every part of the premises had been checked.

65. The area behind the school wall was known at the time for being used by militants, including for the firing of projectiles. The Board accordingly noted the dangerous nature of the inspection of the premises and found that, although a thorough inspection of the premises should have been conducted, such inspection could only have taken place in the presence of qualified security personnel.

66. In the morning of 22 July 2014, a crowd of approximately 300 persons arrived at the school gate and entered the schoolyard. Heavy shelling was occurring at the time in the area of Beit Hanoun, near Jabalia, and the IDF had dropped leaflets over Beit Hanoun warning the civilian population to evacuate the area. This had created a mass movement of people seeking shelter.

67. UNRWA management was alerted to the arrival of the displaced persons and sent an official to the school to ascertain whether it could be opened as a designated emergency shelter. Upon arrival, the official was immediately alerted by the displaced persons to the presence of an object, seemingly a weapon. Other UNRWA officials then came to the school to inspect the premises. They saw an object, seemingly a weapon, covered with a piece of cloth, in an area under the cover of some trees behind the toilet block and near the boundary wall separating the school from the open area behind it. No one approached the object to confirm whether it was a weapon. No photographs of it were taken; and, for this reason, the Board was unable to confirm with certainty what type of weapon may have been hidden at the school. However, it concluded that it was highly likely that a Palestinian armed group might have used the premises to hide weapons.

68. The area was immediately evacuated and the UNRWA officials went to the neighbouring schools to determine whether any of them would be suitable to shelter the hundreds of displaced persons an’iving in the area. About an hour later, they returned to the school, to be informed by the displaced persons that the object had been removed. They then confirmed that the object was no longer at the rear of the school.

69. Following the finding of the object, UNRWA officials contacted the local authorities in Gaza, Israel’s Coordination and Liaison Administa’ation (CLA) and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the evening of 22 July, UNRWA issued a press release stating that rockets (sic) had been found hidden in a vacant school in Gaza and that UNRWA was pursuing all possible measures for their removal in order to preserve the safety and security of the school. The Board was informed that, at the time, UNRWA senior officials understood that the suspected weapon or weapons were still at the school. The following morning, the Deputy Commissioner General informed Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the plan to remove the suspected weapon or weapons. Later that same day, having learned of their disappearance, she informed the Ministry of this. The Board found that communications within UNRWA may have been confusing at critical times during the management of the incident. However, it also noted the enormous pressure under which UNRWA staff were operating, often handling multiple complex and life-threatening situations.

70. The Government of Israel showed the Board a video, which the Board concluded was authentic, showing the launching of a projectile from within the school premises on 14 July. The Government also provided a document which was said to identify the places close to the school from which rockets had been launched, together with the dates of those launches. The Board concluded that it was highly likely that an unidentified Palestinian armed group could have used the school premises to launch attacks on or around 14 July.

Incident (j): Presence of weaponry at the UNRWA Nuseirat Preparatory Co- educational “B” School on 29 July 2014 and on 17 August 2014

71.  The UNRWA Nuseirat Preparatory Co-educational “B” School is located in a semi- rural area, northwest of the Nuseirat Camp, south of Gaza city. Two houses and a mosque are located less than one metre from the school wall and an apartment building, less than a hundred metres away. The school is enclosed by a wall. There is one main gate and a small pedestrian door adjacent to it and one secondary gate in a side wall.

72. The school was on recess at the time of the incident. It was not used as a designated emergency shelter.

73. The Board was informed that the main gate was locked during the recess, but not the adjacent pedestrian gate. The secondary gate was kept locked. Students would regularly climb up the front wall and enter the school. At the time of the incident, none of the classrooms were locked.

74. The school had only two attendants, who worked the morning shift on alternate days. One did not attend some days because of the security situation and the shelling. In addition, five guards hired as part of UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme (JCP) were assigned to the school, one on the afternoon shift and the others, in pairs of two, on the night shift. There was evidence that, on several occasions, the JCP guards were not present at the school when the school attendant an’ived in the morning, including the day of the incident.

75. A team of Operations Support Officers (OSO) had inspected the school on 19 May as part of the regular inspection programme for all UNRWA facilities described above. The team reported no weapons or signs of militant activity. No further inspections had been conducted by OSO teams after that date for the reasons set out above. As of the discovery of weapons at the Gaza Beach Elementary Co-educational “B” School on 16 July, the school attendants were instructed to inspect the school daily. However, the Board was informed that one of the attendants did not do so. The last inspection was carried out on 27 July. The day after was Eid al-Fitr and there was no school attendant at the school, though the JCP guards were present.

76. On 29 July, a 120 MM mortal” tube, a 120 MM mortar bipod and three 120 MM mortar containers were found, covered by a blanket, behind a locked internal gate leading to a stairwell. The weapons were photographed.

77. That same day, UNRWA officials informed the Israeli authorities and the local authorities in Gaza. In accordance with guidance provided by United Nations Headquarters, a mission was arranged for later that day to verify the weapons and render them safe. However, it was later called off because of the security situation in the vicinity of the school. In the evening, UNRWA issued a press release reporting that rockets (sic) had been found in an UNRWA school, that all parties had been informed and that United Nations munitions experts had been unable to access the school because of the security situation, but would do so once it improved.

78. On 30 July, UNRWA officials went to the school, ahead of a visit by United Nations munitions experts. They found no school attendants or JCP guards at the premises and that the lock of the gate to the stairwell had been broken and the weapons had disappeared.

79. The Board was informed that, between 30 July and 17 August, security at the school may have been compromised at least on one occasion by the presence of unidentified individuals and, possibly, of mortar weaponry.

80. On 17 August, a 120 MM mortar tube, a 120 MM mortar bipod and twenty 120 MM mortar containers were found in a small room under a stairwell. Water,

lubricant-oil bottles and boards apparently used as beds were also found, as well as writing in Arabic on a blackboard, seemingly depicting military operations. At the rear of the school, a mortar base plate was found, embedded in the sand. These items were photographed. The mortar cases, mortar tube, bipod and base plate were removed from the school and rendered safe.

81. The Board was informed that UNRWA officials contacted the Israeli authorities and explained that the weapons were in the possession of the United Nations and that they would not be handed over to any party. The Deputy Prime Minister of the Palestinian Govermnent of National Consensus was also informed.

82. The Board found that, in light of the security situation around the school at the time, the security measures at the school were weak, both prior to and on the days of the two incidents, partly due to the fact that the personnel charged with security at the school were subject to life-tba’eatening circumstances. The Board also found that the presence of weapons and other evidence found in the school indicated that the premises could have been used for an unknown period of time by members of a Palestinian armed group and that it was likely that such a group may have fired the mortar from within the premises of the school.

Continue reading ‘Explosive: UN admits Palestinians fired rockets from UNRWA schools’

Full Text: UN Board of Inquiry on Gaza

Ban Ki-moon

Summary of UN Board of Inquiry on Gaza- PDF

The President of the Security Council presents her compliments to the members of the Council and has the honour to transmit herewith, for their information, a copy of a letter dated 27 April 2015 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council, and its enclosure. Continue reading ‘Full Text: UN Board of Inquiry on Gaza’

Richard Falk defends Palestinian resort to violence, praises Hamas for pursuing “peaceful co-existence,” attacks UN Watch for “defamatory campaign”

Former U.N. investigator Richard Falk hails Hamas’ “spirit of resistance,” justifies the Palestinian use of violence, says Hamas aims for “long-term peaceful co-existence,” and attacks UN Watch for ruining his 6-year term as Special Rapporteur on Palestine.

“I was very much attacked in a kind of defamatory way by UN Watch and other very extreme Zionist organizations. Wherever I went, anywhere in the world, they would try to prevent me from speaking, mounted a defamatory campaign, called me an antisemite, a leading antisemite. The Wiesenthal Center in LA listed me as the third most dangerous antisemite in the world, which made feel I must be doing something right, in this role…”

Ex-UN Expert Richard Falk Compares UN Watch to Goebbels, “Their Defamatory Attacks Damaged My Reputation”

GENEVA, April 20 - In a new diatribe delivered before an April 10th anti-Israel gathering in Washington, DC, former UN expert Richard Falk lashes out at UN Watch for “defamatory attacks” that “damaged my reputation, referring to the exposure of his support of 9/11 conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic remarks. Falk compared the Geneva NGO’s practices to those of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels (see video above at minute 9:00 to 10:00).
Continue reading ‘Ex-UN Expert Richard Falk Compares UN Watch to Goebbels, “Their Defamatory Attacks Damaged My Reputation”’

Netherlands justifies Iran’s “accession” to UN women’s rights committee

morality police iran

In the wake of controversial tweets by a senior Dutch political officer, a spokesman of the Dutch foreign ministry doubled down and defended Iran’s election to the  board of UN Women on grounds that it would “maintain dialogue” with “the more conservative countries,” and “encourage improvement,” reports De Volkskrant, a leading daily newspaper in the Netherlands.

On Tuesday, UN Watch called on Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders to fire Bregje Wijsenbeek, a senior political officer dealing with human rights at the Dutch embassy in Pretoria, over her embarrassing tweets defending the election of Iran’s regime to the board of UN Women because, in her words, “Iran is not misogynist,” its “main religious structure was built for a woman,” and because when she visited Iran people in the metro gave her presents. Continue reading ‘Netherlands justifies Iran’s “accession” to UN women’s rights committee’

Dutch Diplomat Should Be Fired for Defending Iran’s Election to UN Women, Tweeting “Iran’s Not Misogynist”

GENEVA, April 14 – The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch today called on Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders (see letter below) to fire a senior human rights diplomat for a series of embarrassing tweets defending the election of Iran’s regime to the board of UN Women because, in her words, “Iran is not misogynist,” its “main religious structure was built for a woman,”  and “in [the] metro people stood up for me and gave me all the presents.” Continue reading ‘Dutch Diplomat Should Be Fired for Defending Iran’s Election to UN Women, Tweeting “Iran’s Not Misogynist”’

Rights Group: EU & US Allowed Iran to Win Seat On UN Women’s Rights Board

morality police iran

Ban Ki-moon and EU’s Mogherini must condemn election of Iran to UN women’s rights board

UNITED NATIONS, April 13, 2015 – Out of possible deference to the nuclear talks with Iran, the EU and the US failed to stop the fundamentalist regime from winning a top post on UN Women, the world agency for women’s equality and empowerment, in sharp contrast to the West’s easy defeat of Iran’s 2010 bid by backing an alternative candidate, said UN Watch, the Geneva-based rights group, in a statement today.

“Electing the Iranian regime to the UN women’s rights board is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “The UN’s decision is an insult to all Iranian women and to all women’s rights advocates around the world,” he added. Continue reading ‘Rights Group: EU & US Allowed Iran to Win Seat On UN Women’s Rights Board’

UN elects Iran to Crime Prevention Commission — and likely to top women’s rights panel

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GENEVA, April 9 - UN Watch condemned the UN for today electing the criminal regime of Iran to its commission on crime prevention, and to two other top committees. UN press release is here.

UN Watch has also learned that Iran is a candidate for the Executive Board of UN Women, the highest world body for women’s rights. The vote, originally scheduled for today, has been postponed to tomorrow. UN Watch condemns Iran’s candidacy because of the regime’s despicable record on women’s rights, as documented in detail at our recent Geneva Summit for Human Rights, and in October at our panel of Iranian dissidents. UN Watch urges the United Nations not to elect a misogynistic regime to oversee women’s rights.

https://twitter.com/HillelNeuer/status/586182969687019521

Iran’s media is already gloating. Report from Iran’s Mehr News Agency:

Iran elected ECOSOC committee member

TEHRAN, Apr. 09 (MNA) – The Islamic Republic of Iran managed to win membership in the executive board of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, and Committee for the United Nations Population Award for next 3 years beginning in 2016.

 

 

Whistleblowers Urge Ban Ki-Moon and U.N. Executives to Strengthen Anti-Retaliation Measures

Ban Ki-moon

Press Release from  the Government Accountability Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2015 – Today, a group of nine whistleblowers from the U.N. system sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Directors of U.N. Specialized Agencies urging them to do more to protect whistleblowers.

The letter claims that whistleblower policies in the U.N. system “afford little to no measure of real or meaningful protection for whistleblowers” and that “fear of reporting wrongdoing is widespread.” According to the letter, the “UN system of justice fails whistleblowers.” Continue reading ‘Whistleblowers Urge Ban Ki-Moon and U.N. Executives to Strengthen Anti-Retaliation Measures’

Rights Council condemns Boko Haram terror

Today was one of the rare instances that the UN Human Rights Council spent a whole day condemning a terrorist group, namely Boko Haram. That is the second time the Council holds an urgent debate against terrorism, the first being against the Islamic State in September 2014.

It is interesting that many themes discussed today rarely come up in the HRC, such as:

  • Several delegations spoke of “asymmetric warfare”
  • The Coordination Committee of Special Procedures raised the issue of children being used as human shields by Boko Haram
  • Many states spoke against passing on arms to terrorist groups

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cameroon, Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, made the following frank remark:
“We call for understanding from our friends in the Human Rights Council. A proportionate response to the attacks can only be made to the degree that the army has the capacity to assess the scope of the attack. That is not our case. We don’t have the technological and satellite instruments to see how Boko Haram will attack us. They always take us by surprise and we have to react.”

All these points are interesting especially when one compares them to the prevailing discourse during the discussion of the Council’s pet issue, that is the Israel-Arab conflict, and the tactics of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

UN Watch statement on today’s urgent session on Boko Haram

GENEVA, Apr. 1, 2015 – UN Watch is participating today at the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Session on Boko Haram. Please find below the full UN Watch statement.

Last month, at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, UN Watch together with 20 other NGOs hosted Saa, a Nigerian girl who escaped Boko Haram, when they kidnapped her and her fellow classmates. Her story was covered by major international media, including Le Monde, France 24, France 4, ARD, Swiss TV (in French, German and Italian) and Estado de S. Paulo. To watch the full video, click here.

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UN Watch Statement

23rd Special Session, UN Human Rights Council

 

Thank you, Mr. President.

UN Watch welcomes today’s meeting. Yet given that it has been more than five years now since Boko Haram has been on the rampage, killing thousands of innocent men, women, and children, we must ask: Why has the UN waited so long?

Continue reading ‘UN Watch statement on today’s urgent session on Boko Haram’

Resolutions and Voting Results of 28th HRC Session

Condemnatory Country-Specific Resolutions:

Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/HRC/28/L.3)
Sponsor: Pakistan on behalf of the OIC
Vote result: 29 in favor, 1 against (United States), 17 abstentions (EU, Botswana, Japan, South Korea)

The continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic (A/HRC/28/L.6)
Sponsors: France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United States, United Kingdom
Lebanon tabled an amendment to remove the reference to a selectively listed organization (Hezbollah) from OP13, which they believed to be politically motivated and unbalanced. As a result, a vote was held on this amendment the result of which was: 10 in favor (Cuba, China, Brazil, Russia), 23 against (United States, EU, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, UAE), 14 abstentions (India, South Africa)
Vote result (on the entire resolution): 29 in favour (United States, EU, Saudi Arabia), 6 against (Venezuela, Russia, Cuba, Algeria, Bolivia, China), 12 abstentions (India, Pakistan, South Africa, Brazil)

Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/HRC/28/L.17)
Sponsors: Moldova, Sweden, FYROM, United States
Vote result: 20 in favour (United States, EU), 11 against (China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela), 16 abstentions (Algeria, Brazil, South Africa, UAE)
Continue reading ‘Resolutions and Voting Results of 28th HRC Session’

Rare: UN to hold special session on crimes of Islamist terror group

140714-boko-haram-shekau-5a_7f2bcf50180bbeb700135f7e1e313a3cIn a rare move, the UN’s controversial Human Rights Council will hold a special session to address abuses committed by an Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram. The UN press release follows below.

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UN Press Release

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO HOLD SPECIAL SESSION ON TERRORIST ATTACKS, ABUSES AND VIOLATIONS COMMITTED BY BOKO HARAM

The Human Rights Council will hold its twenty-third special session on Wednesday, 1 April 2015, “in light of the terrorist attacks and human rights abuses and violations committed by the terrorist group Boko Haram”.

The special session will start at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 1 April in Room XX at the Palais des Nations. The meeting will be webcast live at webtv.un.org. Continue reading ‘Rare: UN to hold special session on crimes of Islamist terror group’

World body urged to investigate anti-Jewish books in U.N. Bookshop

images from UN bookstore

Letter by UN Watch director Hillel Neuer to the United Nations
PDF

Michael Moller
Acting Director-General
United Nations Office at Geneva
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10

26 March 2015

Dear Mr. Moller,

UN Watch is deeply concerned by the highly suspect selection of books featured in the United Nations Bookshop, and we urge you to investigate. (Photos are enclosed.)

Perusing the shelf displays, one cannot miss the carefully orchestrated line-up of anti- American and anti-Israeli book titles, from “Reflections on Israel’s War Against Palestinians” to “The Punishment of Gaza.” Worse, the UN bookshop—situated just below the Human Rights Council prominently displays a book entitled “How I Stopped Being a Jew.” The author accuses the Jewish religion of a “genocidal Yahwestic tradition.”

Let us be clear: under no circumstances whatsoever would we presume to dictate to the UN bookshop which books to sell. We unflinchingly support the freedom of expression and full exchange of ideas, good and bad. Yet the unmistakable pattern of anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish books is a matter that requires your attention. We recall the promise of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the historic 2004 United Nations gathering against anti- Semitism: “The fight against anti-Semitism must be our fight,” said Mr. Annan, “and Jews everywhere must feel that the United Nations is their home, too.” As I am sure you will agree, the selective offering of one-sided and inflammatory books that demean Israelis and Jews does not contribute to the culture of acceptance promised by Mr. Annan.

At a time when Jews across Europe are being targeted by violent attacks and incitement, it is deeply distressing that the United Nations Headquarters in Europe would promote books on “how to stop being a Jew.” Significantly, we note there are no other books in the shop targeting or criticizing any other religious or ethnic group.

Numerous visitors pass through the UN bookshop every day, including young students who take the UN tour in order to learn about the UN Charter values of equality, tolerance and peace. We urge the United Nations to live up to its founding values, and to prevent yet another UN institution from falling victim to selectivity and politicization. We sincerely hope that you will investigate this serious matter, and take remedial action as necessary.

Yours truly,

Hillel Neuer
Executive Director

Continue reading ‘World body urged to investigate anti-Jewish books in U.N. Bookshop’

Today is Hate Israel Day at the UN – March 23, 2015

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GENEVA, March 23, 2015  – Today is Hate Israel Day at the U.N., a feature of every regular session, held in September, March and June, of the 47-nation Human Rights Council.

While all 193 countries of the world are addressed under Agenda Item 4, “Human rights situations requiring the world’s attention,” only Israel gets its own special treatment, under Agenda Item 7, “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories .” Continue reading ‘Today is Hate Israel Day at the UN – March 23, 2015′

VIDEO: Cuba calls to “eliminate” UN Watch speech on Israeli elections as lesson for dictatorships

Statement by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer to the UN Human Rights Council, 17 March 2015, Agenda Item 4, “Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention”

Mr. President,

Today the whole world is watching as millions of Israelis, Jews and Arabs, go to the polls to elect 120 members of parliament and a prime minister. Twenty-four parties are running, including left and right, secular and religious, and a joint Arab list that is predicted this time to win more than ten percent of the seats.

The whole world is watching, to see the results.

But my question today, Mr. President, is whether members of this United Nations Human Rights Council is watching — not the results, but the process.

Now, in this session the Council is planning to condemn Israel for violating human rights in at least four resolutions, which is four times more condemnation than is being directed against Syria, Iran, and North Korea.

Perhaps the Council members who will condemn Israel as the world worst violator, will watch Israeli democracy in action and learn something. Continue reading ‘VIDEO: Cuba calls to “eliminate” UN Watch speech on Israeli elections as lesson for dictatorships’

UN reviews Iran’s record

The UN Human Rights Council adopted today the report on Iran’s human rights record. Iran tried to portray a rosy and unreal picture of the situation in the country, supported by several friendly governments. Western democracies and civil society groups made very strong statements to set the record straight.

Human rights violations remain widespread in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Abuses of freedom of expression, women’s rights, the incarceration of human rights defenders and political prisoners, misuse of the death penalty, as well as the poor treatment of religious and national minorities remain flagrant.

Addressing the Council on behalf of Iran, Mr. Kazem Gharib Abadi proclaimed, as inspired by the religious democracy that is founded in Islamic principles rooted in Iran’s religious and cultural heritage, that Iran is “firmly committed to the promotion of human rights,” that “Iran’s approach to human rights is comprehensive,” and “that all citizens, men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law.”

Multiple countries took the floor to praise Iran offering congratulations on their progress on human rights. Examples include:

  • Nicaragua: “We wish to congratulate Iran for their commitment at the international level for the protection and promotion of human rights.”
  • Pakistan: “We commend the government’s acceptance to many of the recommendations.”
  • Russia: “We commend their interaction with treaty bodies and openness to dialogue, and recommend adopting the report.”
  • Sudan: “We commend that they have accepted the majority of the recommendations.”
  • Sri Lanka: “The progress made is commendable.”
  • Venezuela: “We wish to express satisfaction of the government’s implementation of the MDG’s, evidence of their commitment to fundamental rights.” They also highlighted that, “The implementation of sanctions is a violation of the basic rights of the people of Iran.”

However, The United Kingdom expressed concern with “the sharp increase in the use of the death penalty,” and other ongoing violations.  Similarly, The United States renewed their “call on Iran to end the harassment and persecution of journalists and demonstrate its commitment to freedom of expression,” and to “uphold its religious freedom commitments and obligations and to release those imprisoned for religious beliefs.”

Finally, civil society organizations painted a grave picture; highlighting that same sex relations are still punishable by death, that Baha’i’s remain without basic citizenship rights let alone religious freedom, that legislative change has not been upheld in practice, that there is continued denial of due process, and that the death penalty remains a common prescription for political dissidents and religious minorities.

 

 

UN Watch empowers North Korean defectors

This week, UN Watch hosted a delegation of NK Watch, a South Korean NGO which was created by survivors of North Korean prison camps and their families.

The delegation comprised of Ahn Myeong Cheol, NK’s Watch Executive Director and a former prison guard in the North Korean regime’s brutal gulag; Gim Gyumin, a North Korean defector and film director who has integrated the abuses he witnessed into his movies; Mr. Kim, a former North Korean overseas worker in Russia who escaped and defected to South Korea; and Dasun Kim, manager of International Affairs at NK Watch.

During their stay in Geneva, NK Watch members addressed the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights on the issue of the North Korean overseas workers, as well as the Special Rapporteur on Slavery and the Working Groups on Arbitrary Detention and Enforced Disappearances. They also addressed the Human Rights Council plenary during the report of the Special Rapporteur on North Korea. The Rapporteur pledged to look into the issue of the workers and coordinate with other UN mechanisms.

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UN Watch and NK Watch held a film screening at the Palais des Nations, attended by more than 80 people, showing the movie “Winter Butterfly,” which describes the famine and the abuse of ordinary citizens of North Korea. Following the screening, a Q&A session with film director Gim Gyumin followed, as well as a testimony of Mr. Kim on his experiences as a North Korean Overseas worker.

Lastly, UN Watch facilitated a press conference for the NK Watch delegation, as well as individual interviews, getting worldwide coverage, including Reuters, Agence France Presse, Press Trust India, Deutsche Welle and Vice.

 

Minutes of UNHRC Bureau: Gaza probe deferral to be decided on Monday

Below is an excerpt from the minutes of the Bureau of the UN Human Rights Council, which met today, Friday, March 13, and refers to the request to postpone the report of the Gaza COI. For the full document in pdf, click here.

The request by the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict to postpone the presentation of its report to the Council at a later session

With regard to the request by the COI on the 2014 Gaza conflict, the President informed the Bureau that, after consultations with concerned parties, he intends to propose on Monday 16 March, that the Council request the Commissioners to present a short oral update on the status of the report to the Council on 23 March 2015 without any interactive dialogue as no report will be presented at this session. The consideration of the report of the COI, as mandated in Council resolution A/HRC/RES/S-21/1, will be postponed to the 29th session, in June 2015. The President also informed the Bureau that the secretariat will be requested to make a statement to the Council on the programme budgetary implications, if any, of the postponement of the consideration of the report of the COI to the next session with the aim of ensuring that the necessary funds are indeed available to the COI.

UN’s Iran monitor calls out Tehran abuses, names victims, in damning 81-page report

ahmedshaheedUN Watch has obtained a copy of the advanced unedited version of the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed: click here for PDF.

The 81-page report details gross and systematic abuses of human rights by the Iranian regime, and lists the names of victims and the details of Tehran’s  violations. Continue reading ‘UN’s Iran monitor calls out Tehran abuses, names victims, in damning 81-page report’

BREAKING: UN Gaza Commissioners seek deferral of report to June

GENEVA, March 9 - UN Watch welcomes the news that the United Nations commission of inquiry on Gaza is seeking to defer its report to June.

“This is what I proposed to the commissioners when I met them in September,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “A serious report needs more time and must reflect material that has come to light from all parties.”

“Moreover,” said Neuer, “the resignation of William Schabas under a cloud of bias accusations requires a complete rewriting of the report.”
grietje baars

“Finally, UN Watch’s recent revelation that the Goldstone Report was drafted with the help of an anarchist law professor who devoted her life to prosecuting Israelis for war crimes (photo of Grietje Baars) requires a careful review of the staffers now drafting this report, who were hired by the same UN agency.”

Continue reading ‘BREAKING: UN Gaza Commissioners seek deferral of report to June’

UNHRC chief schools “Qatada QC” Ben Emmerson for late report

emmerson

UK lawyer Ben Emmerson, known as “Qatada QC” for his defense of hate preacher Abu Qatada, just got schooled by the president of the U.N. Human Rights Council for failing to submit his report as the expert on counterterrorism and human rights, and for failing to inform the Council in time. Continue reading ‘UNHRC chief schools “Qatada QC” Ben Emmerson for late report’

UNHRC member Saudi Arabia: lashing of blogger is justified under Sharia and human rights law

 

badawi award thumbnailFollowing is today’s despicable statement by Saudi Arabia, an elected member of the U.N. Human Rights Council, concerning jailed blogger Raif Badawi, who recently won our 2015 Geneva Summit Courage Award.

Source: Saudi Press Agency

Official Source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Kingdom cannot believe the interest some media have taken in the case of Citizen Rai’ef Badowi and the judicial sentence he has received

Riyadh, Mar 7, 2015, SPA — An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “The Kingdom cannot believe and strongly disapproves what has been addressed in some media outlets about the case of Citizen Rai’ef Mohammed Badowi and the judicial sentence he has received. Continue reading ‘UNHRC member Saudi Arabia: lashing of blogger is justified under Sharia and human rights law’

UNHRC taps Algerian for new post to oppose U.S. sanctions, a Cuban-backed mandate


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The UN Human Rights Council has shortlisted the 79-year-old Idriss Jazairy, Algeria’s  former representative to the 47-nation body, to head a new post backed by Cuba and designed to classify U.S. sanctions against rogue regimes as violations of human rights.

The new “Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights” will be appointed at the end of March during the current month-long session of the UNHRC. Continue reading ‘UNHRC taps Algerian for new post to oppose U.S. sanctions, a Cuban-backed mandate’

Kerry Makes the Case for the U.N. Human Rights Council


kerry at UNHRCSecretary Kerry’s Intervention, Human Rights Council – Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, March 2, 2015

(Source: UN Human Rights Council Extranet)

 Let me start by thanking the Council’s president, Joachim Rücker , for convening this session. I appreciate the opportunity to be here at such an important time – not only for the future of this body, but for human rights around the globe.

President Obama believes deeply in the mission of the Human Rights Council and recognizes the importance of US engagement and leadership within the organization. He made the decision to re-engage shortly after he became President because he knew it is vital for the United States – and for our allies –to have a seat at the table as the HRC sets its priorities and implements its agenda.

Continue reading ‘Kerry Makes the Case for the U.N. Human Rights Council’