Today: UN set to adopt same nine anti-Israel resolutions interpreter called “a bit much”

Today, the UN’s Fourth Committee is set to adopt its usual nine politically-motivated anti-Israel resolutions, while ignoring the rest of the world.

One year ago, a hot mic caught a UN interpreter in a Spectacular UN Moment of Candor.

Unaware that her microphone was on and under the mistaken impression that she was speaking only to colleagues, the interpreter uttered the following words into the headphones of every UN delegate, and before a live webcast audience worldwide:

I think when you have… like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? [It’s a bit much, no?] I mean I know… There’s other really bad shit happening, but no one says anything about the other stuff.

Laughter erupted among the delegates. “The interpreter apologizes,” said the unfortunate truth-teller, moments later, followed by her audible gasp.

One year after this amazing video made international headlines and became “an instant classic” thanks to UN Watch, the UN is about to do it again today. Why hasn’t the UN learned anything and is repeating today the same anti-Israel litany?

Continue reading ‘Today: UN set to adopt same nine anti-Israel resolutions interpreter called “a bit much”’

Lawyers and rights activists question Schabas’ tenure on UN Gaza probe

A sample of the lawyers and human rights activist who have questioned the tenure of William Schabas as chair of the UN commission of inquiry on Gaza, in light of his prior prejudicial statements.


Swiss president tells UN Watch: no action on North Korean bank accounts

GENEVA – As reported by the Wall Street Journal, UN Watch has received a letter from the president of Switzerland, responding to the group’s call to freeze Swiss bank accounts held by North Korean regime figures,  indicating the government will not take any action unless “new developments take place at the Security Council.”

The initial UN Watch letter, signed by 20 North Korean defectors, emphasized that “Switzerland has no legal or moral reason to wait before proceeding with these vital targeted sanctions. ”

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Letter from Swiss President Didier Burkhalter to UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, dated 29 October 2014 — Click for PDF

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your open letter signed by 20 North Korean defectors of September, 19, 2014 regarding the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and in particular regarding your request to Switzerland to immediately freeze all assets of the North Korean leadership within its territory.

As you know, the universal protection and promotion of human rights are a top priority of Swiss foreign policy provided for by the Federal Constitution. Hence, human rights issues are incorporated into its overall foreign policy and are regularly addressed at governmental level and in multilateral forums.

The serious and systematic violations of human rights and crimes against humanity that are being committed on a large scale in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — as established by the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in its detailed, well-documented and comprehensive findings — are a source of grave concern to Switzerland. As stated in the open letter, these serious violations of human rights need to be treated with the greatest urgency. Therefore, Switzerland supports in particular the Commission’s recommendation to refer this situation to the International Criminal Court.

The situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea already led Switzerland to take action, including legal steps. On 25 October 2006, the Confederation enacted a range of coercive measures in order to implement sanctions that had been ordered by the United Nations Security Council: the Ordinance instituting Measures against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea entails a list of 12 individuals and 20 organisations that are subject to such coercive measures, including a freeze of their assets. Regarding coercive measures, resolute and concerted action at the United Nations are key to improve the situation and Switzerland stands ready to adapt its own legal measures should new developments take place at the Security Council.

Switzerland will also continue to express its grave concern related to the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea within the framework of its bilateral relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, such as during the political dialogue which will take place in November 2014, and will continue to be actively engaged regarding efforts in the UN General Assembly and in the Human Rights Council to improve the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Yours sincerely,

Didier Burkhalter

Continue reading ‘Swiss president tells UN Watch: no action on North Korean bank accounts’

Georgetown prof: UNHRC ‘killed my candidacy’ as Palestine investigator for not being ‘partial’ like William Schabas

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Georgetown University law professor Christina Cerna said the U.N.’s highest human rights body “killed” her candidacy as its expert on Palestine — despite her selection by a 5-member vetting committee — on account of her not being partial like William Schabas, whom the 47-nation council chose to chair its commission of inquiry on Gaza.

“I was selected as the consensus candidate of the Consultative Committee for the post of UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories earlier this year,” Cerna wrote in a comment on the blog of the European Journal of International Law, “but the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the League of Arab States both officially opposed me, which killed my candidacy.”

“They opposed me… because I had never said anything pro-Palestinian and consequently was not known to be ‘partial’ enough to win their support. The candidate that they officially supported was considered to be partial in their favor.”

“No other special procedures mandate is similarly biased,” wrote Cerna, who is the principal human rights specialist at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

“In my view Israel has a unique status in the UN Human Rights Council. “Impartiality is not a requirement sought by the Council for the appointment of experts when it comes to Israel.”

Significantly, the former top candidate to be the UNHRC’s Special Rapporteur for human rights in Palestine stated that William Schabas was chosen to head the Gaza inquiry precisely because of his prior prejudicial statements”

“I don’t think Bill Schabas could have been selected to lead the “independent” inquiry if he hadn’t made the comments he had made about Netanyahu.

Cerna now joins numerous other legal scholars and human rights activists who believe Schabas’ tenure is inconsistent with the impartiality principle.

Top international law professor blasts U.N.’s Schabas for “self-evident” appearance of bias

Schabas-330x390In September, a UN Watch delegation met in person with William Schabas, together with the other two members of his U.N. commission of inquiry on Gaza, and asked him to step down on account of his numerous prejudicial statements and actions that have created the appearance of bias.

Schabas insisted, however, that he had consulted with a “broad range of people” who confirmed his objectivity and impartiality.

Yet it is unclear who these people are, because several of the world’s leading international lawyers and human rights activists around the world have called for him to step down.

The latest towering scholar to state the obvious is Joseph Weiler, President of the European University Institute in Florence, the European Union Jean Monnet Chair at New York University School of Law, and Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of International Law. Continue reading ‘Top international law professor blasts U.N.’s Schabas for “self-evident” appearance of bias’

What turned Ken Roth into a Swiss reporter

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With a little help from his 275 staff members, Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth voices moral outrage on his Twitter feed once every hour, 24 times a day, seven days a week.

Yet when a Hamas terrorist today rammed his car into a crowd of Israelis in Jerusalem, and then got out to attack them further with an iron bar, Ken Roth’s voice suddenly turned into that of a neutral Swiss reporter. Continue reading ‘What turned Ken Roth into a Swiss reporter’

Iran blames Western “media blitz” for execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari

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Iran’s representative just told the UN Human Rights Council that the West and its “media blitz” and “propaganda” is the real one to blame for its execution on Saturday of 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, chief of human rights in Iran’s government, said:

One issue was about a  recent execution. Let me explain. Reyhaneh Jabbari had numerous judges, numerous lawyers. The lawyers defended her. Court came back with an indictment that it was first degree murder with intention, with capital punishment.

It is considered Qesas, the right of the victim. The judiciary not in position to execute. We tried and lobbied a lot to solicit forgiveness from relatives of victims. We unfortunately were not able. One reason was because of huge propaganda created in this case. In my last meeting with sons, I urged him to “let not even others also not lose a beloved one; forgive.”

He replied: “We had the intention to forgive, but because of the media blitz — they accused our father of forced rape — we cannot deal with this humiliation.”

So this execution went ahead. We’re very sorry that two nationals lost their life. Western countries should look into it. This idea of  “the West and the rest, only the west has good things,” this is wrong. Please accept the idea that others have a good way of life. Westrn lifestyle isn’t only way of doing things.

Christian priest to UN: “Israel only Mideast country not persecuting Christians”

Mr. President, I am speaking to you on behalf of UN Watch.

Standing before you is Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Christian citizen from Nazareth, the city in which Christ was raised and where he proselytized.

Dear Sirs, while I stand before you today, the earth of the Middle East is soaked with the blood of Christians being killed daily.

Do you know that at the start of the 20th century, Christians comprised 20% of the population of the Middle East? Continue reading ‘Christian priest to UN: “Israel only Mideast country not persecuting Christians”’

Norway speaks out against dictators controlling UN

Last week, at the 2014 Oslo Freedom Forum, the annual meeting of human rights and democracy activists from around the world, Bård Glad Pedersen, Norway’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, had very strong words in support of human rights defenders and against dictatorships. He pointed out how autocratic regimes coordinate at the UN to undermine human rights, something that also hurts confidence in the UN, as he said.

Below is this rare excerpt coming from a European democracy, admitting the sad reality of the UN Human Rights Council which UN Watch consistently fights to expose.

 

We need to defend those who bravely stand up to protect human rights. We must show that the world is watching. We advocate the importance of protection of human rights defenders in the UN. We support the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. We support individuals, organizations and networks that are promoting human rights for all. We support security training and capacity building but I think we can do more and we must do more.

The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place today. However, the gap between commitment on one hand and reality on the ground on the other hand is unacceptable. I think it is important that we recognize that the international system to promote and protect human rights is not equipped to address all these challenges fully and adequately.

In the UN, states with bad human rights records are actively working to undermine human rights and they are building alliances among themselves. This threatens human rights and also confidence in the UN. The answer is not to cave in, the answer is to respond forcefully. I believe it is even more important that we, we who believe in human rights, are active, committed and visible within the system and that we actively advocate the right of civil society to be heard in these forums. To promote human rights, we must work multilaterally in the UN and must work to strengthen the system. We must work regionally through the Council of Europe and support similar institutions in other regions of the world. We must work bilaterally, address issues, share concerns and build alliances across geographies.

The most rewarding and perhaps important part of my job is to meet human rights defenders. Sometimes part of the importance is that it is visible for totalitarian regimes that we meet. Other times, I am asked not to talk about the meetings because it would increase risks for the brave people who share their stories. The meetings are valuable because it gives insight and inspiration to continue also our efforts. Your strong voices and bravery makes a powerful impression.

UN reviews Israel’s human right record

Many contentious issues were raised regarding Israel’s human rights record on October 20, as the UN Human Rights Committee considered Israel’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In presenting the report, the Israeli delegation noted that despite constant security challenges, Israel had taken significant steps in the implementation of the Covenant. Operation “Protective Edge” was further acknowledged with mention of Hamas’s actions necessitating a military response. Nevertheless, “Israel remained committed to the realization of a peaceful future and was willing to make painful compromises to see the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state living side-by-side with the Jewish State of Israel,” said Eviator Manor, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.

Further, the promotion of Israeli civil and political rights were examined with emphasis placed on initiatives aimed to advance the Arab population living within Israel. These included the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs initiative to enhance cooperation between State authorities, scholars and civil society organizations in the reporting process and in the implementation of human rights conventions; in conjunction with the establishment of a joint inter-ministerial team which primarily functions to review the concluding observations of the human rights committees.

Continue reading ‘UN reviews Israel’s human right record’

UN Watch condemns EU majority for backing Venezuela’s Security Council bid

Neuer: “Like making a pyromaniac into the fire chief”

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U.N. representatives for Venezuela, including Foreign Minister
Rafael Ramirez, right, celebrate after being elected to a two year
term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

GENEVA, October 16, 2014 – Despite Venezuela’s record of human rights abuses against judges, students and peaceful protesters, and its backing of Syria’s Assad regime, a majority of EU member states today were among the 181 states that voted Venezuela onto the UN Security Council, drawing the ire of human rights activists.

“It’s an outrage that at least 16 of 28 EU states today empowered and legitimized a repressive government that openly sides with the murderous Syrian regime,” said Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, an independent human rights group which recently brought Venezuelan human rights victims to testify before the world body.

“Electing Venezuela to the UN Security Council is like making a pyromaniac into the fire chief,” said Neuer. Continue reading ‘UN Watch condemns EU majority for backing Venezuela’s Security Council bid’

Arab states outraged as EU walks out on anti-Israel UN debate

In an important development, the European Union has stopped participating in the UN Human Rights Council’s agenda item against Israel. This has the Arab and Islamic states up in arms. Below from the recent debate on September 23, 2014, under Agenda Item 7, “The Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”

The State of Palestine expressed its disappointment at Israel’s decision not to participate in this agenda item of the Council. The occupation and numerous human rights violations by Israel for the last 47 years made Israel the world’s biggest violator of human rights.

United Arab Emirates for the Arab Group expressed extreme discontent about the European Union’s decision to boycott this agenda item.

Iran for the Non-Aligned Movement condemned in the strongest terms the violations of human rights as a result of Israel’s military aggression against Palestine. The Non-Aligned Movement was deeply disappointed by the decision of certain s Continue reading ‘Arab states outraged as EU walks out on anti-Israel UN debate’

Resolutions and Voting Results of 27th HRC Session

Condemnatory Country-Specific Resolutions

The continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic (A/HRC/27/L.5/Rev.1)
Sponsors: France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UK, USA
Vote result: 32 in favor, 5 against (China, Cuba, Russia), 10 abstentions

Non-Condemnatory Country-Specific Resolutions

Technical assistance and capacity building to further improve human rights in the Sudan (A/HRC/27/L.30/Rev.1)
Sponsors: Ethiopia on behalf of the African Group
Result: Adopted without a vote.

Technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights (A/HRC/27/L.9/Rev.1)
Sponsors: Netherlands, Yemen
Result: Adopted without a vote.

Assistance technique et renforcement des capacités en matière des droits de l’homme en République démocratique du Congo (A/HRC/27/L.32)
Sponsors: Ethiopia on behalf of the African group
Result: Adopted without a vote.

Continue reading ‘Resolutions and Voting Results of 27th HRC Session’

Exclusive: Schabas’ own colleague, human rights icon Aryeh Neier, calls for him to quit UN Gaza probe due to prior statements

GENEVA, September 30 – A top figure in the human rights world has called for William Schabas to “recuse himself” from the new UN probe on Gaza, undermining Schabas’ claim that the only people who believe he should go are critics of the UN.

The statement was made last week by Aryeh Neier, founding director of Human Rights Watch, former head of the ACLU, and President Emeritus of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, and revealed today in a Wall Street Journal interview with UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

In a lecture at the SciencesPo Paris School of International Affairs, where Neier teaches together with Schabas, the former said that commissions of inquiry are one of the few good things to come out of the UN Human Rights Council.

Turning to Schabas, Neier called him a well known and leading scholar. However, given Schabas’ statement on bringing Netanyahu to ICC, Neier said that “Schabas should recuse himself.”

Neier said that “any judge who had previously called for the indictment of the defendant would recuse himself.”

Schabas’ appointment gives Israel a perfect excuse to denounce the UN commission of inquiry, said Neier. “Why make it so easy for Israel to do so?” he asked.

Neier went on to say that the sheer quantity of resolutions against Israel at the UN Human Rights Council gives Israel the ability to cast the HRC as “anti-Israel” and therefore to “justify its own rejections of the HRC.”

The revelation comes one day after a similar call by Mordechai Kremnitzer, a top Israeli legal scholar who serves on the Public Council of the human rights group B’Tselem.

“The damage to the inquiry is redoubled when its chair has already declared his desire to see the prime minister of Israel in the dock at the International Court of Justice,” wrote Kremnitzer in an op-ed. “He cannot be perceived as an unbiased investigator.”

UN airbrushes Clooney’s wife out of its history books

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The United Nations has airbrushed George Clooney’s wife out of its history books, as a new report by the world body eliminates all mention of its ill-fated appointment of Ms. Amal Alamuddin last month as a member of its commission of inquiry on the Gaza conflict.

The U.N.’s August 11th announcement that the Hollywood star’s then-fiancee would serve on the probe made world headlines. Only hours later, however — possibly due to the immediate controversy that erupted over the the inquiry’s chair, William Schabas — Alamuddin abruptly withdrew.

UN Watch was the first to question the impartiality of Schabas due to his many prior statements calling to indict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for alleged war crimes.

Alamuddin’s withdrawal was a significant embarrassment for the UN, which quickly replaced her with another woman, as the Palestinian ambassador said would happen.

In a new UN report summarizing the history of the probe, Alamuddin’s appointment and withdrawal are completely absent:

On 11 and 25 August 2014, the President of the Human Rights Council appointed William Schabas (Canada) as Chair, Doudou Diène (Senegal) and Mary McGowan Davis (United States of America) to serve as members on the Commission of Inquiry.

Video: UN Watch calls out false praise for Qatar’s rights record by China, Iran, Turkey

When the UN Human Rights Council presented a report that was 90 percent full of false praise for Qatar’s human rights record — from the likes of China, Iran and Turkey — UN Watch took the floor and called them out. UN Watch articulated objections from Qatar’s migrant workers, women, and other victims, yet the chair said “I see no objection,” and adopted the report.

True story: Palestinian UN rep criticized states for criticizing Israel

An extraordinary event took place at the Human Rights Council on September 16, when the Palestinian representative took the floor to attack countries for attacking Israel.

The incident took place while the HRC was discussing human rights situations around the world, under Agenda Item 4.

What angered the Palestinians is that European and other Western countries — such as Denmark, Italy, Spain, Germany and Japan — decided to raise their criticisms of Israel under the normal agenda item for criticizing countries, rather than under Agenda Item 7, which is the council’s special agenda item targeting Israel, entitled  “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”

Israel is the only country singled out by a special agenda item. Not even Syria, Sudan or North Korea have their own agenda item. Under that biased framework, Israel is attacked by venomous accusations, and targeted under more than half of the HRC’s country resolutions. Even UN chief Ban Ki-moon has condemned the institution of this agenda item.

In the past year, the EU has refused to take the floor under Agenda Item 7, denying it legitimacy. Instead, they speak about Israel, when they feel the need, under Item 4. Gradually, Item 7 threatens to become a dead letter.

This triggered an angry response from the Palestinian representative who criticized these democracies — and also challenged Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas terrorism. Of course, the Palestinians did not object to Iran criticizing Israel under item 4, or other authoritarian countries who are willing to do so at every opportunity.

Continue reading ‘True story: Palestinian UN rep criticized states for criticizing Israel’

UN Intellectual Property Agency WIPO Fires Staff Union Head Following Exposure of Dubious Management Practices

Press Release from Flaherty Law Group in Geneva:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, 21 SEPTEMBER 2014

UN Intellectual Property Agency WIPO Fires Staff Union Head Following Exposure of Dubious Management Practices

On 19 September 2014, the World Intellectual Property Agency (WIPO) fired Mr Moncef Kateb, president of the WIPO Staff Association, the accredited trade union of the UN specialized agency’s staff, in retaliation for his defense of staff and continued opposition to alleged misconduct by the WIPO Director General and his administration. Continue reading ‘UN Intellectual Property Agency WIPO Fires Staff Union Head Following Exposure of Dubious Management Practices’

UNHRC on Qatar: “I see no objection”

Testimony by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer at UN Human Rights Council adoption of its report on Qatar’s human rights record, September 19, 2014

Thank you, Mr. President.

Today we ask: Does the cause of human rights support — or object — to the adoption of today’s UN Human Rights Council report on Qatar’s human rights record?

Let me read from the report:

  • “China appreciated the efforts expended by Qatar to promote and protect human rights”
  • “Bangladesh praised Qatar for the progress made in empowering women”
  • “Iran commended Qatar on its integrated social development, and for improving the situation of women”
  • “Sudan applauded the steps taken by Qatar”
  • “Turkey commended the progress achieved by Qatar in human rights”

Mr. President,

No less than 78 out of the 84 country statements in this report offer praise for the human rights record of Qatar. That’s over 90 percent.

Yet the truth, Mr. President, is the opposite.

Let us be clear:

The truth is that the 1.4 million migrant workers in Qatar object to this report because they are dying at the rate of one a day from inhuman conditions. At the current pace, more than 4,000 migrant workers will die to build the infrastructure for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup.

The truth is that the women of Qatar object to this report because they are denied basic rights to equality, for example denied the right to be elected to the Shura legislative council.

The truth is that journalists and aid workers who are abducted by the ISIS terrorist group and face beheading object to this report. In the words of Germany’s development aid minister, Gerd Mueller, from August 20th: “Who is financing these troops? Hint: Qatar.”

The truth is that the Palestinians, Israelis and other victims of Hamas war crimes — their exploitation and targeting of civilian populations, mosques, hospitals and schools — object to this report. As one Arab diplomat said to the FDD, as quoted in its testimony before the U.S. Congress, “Qatar finances Hamas strongly.”

Mr. President,

For all of these reasons, let me be clear: the victims of human rights abuse around the world object to the adoption of this report.

Thank you, Mr. President.

[...]

President of UNHRC Session: May I now propose that the Council adopt the decision of the UPR on Qatar as appears on screen. I see no objection. The decision is adopted.

Today: As UN debates North Korean human rights, 20 famous survivors of atrocities urge Switzerland to freeze regime bank accounts

GENEVA, September 19, 2014 – When the UN rights council this morning debates North Korea’s record, a human rights NGO will take the floor to present an open letter sent today by 20 North Korean defectors to Swiss president Didier Burkhalter calling to freeze the regime’s bank accounts held in the country.

“The international community must show that it truly cares for the suffering people of North Korea with deeds—not just words,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group that will present the letter in an intervention during today’s Universal Periodic Review debate on North Korea.

“As a Swiss NGO, we begin by asking our own country to show moral leadership. To its credit, Switzerland sponsored the UNHRC resolution that created an excellent commission of inquiry, and the UNHRC resolution that specifically called for ‘effective targeted sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible for crimes against humanity.'” Continue reading ‘Today: As UN debates North Korean human rights, 20 famous survivors of atrocities urge Switzerland to freeze regime bank accounts’

“I was tortured by Russian-sponsored militants,” Ukrainian woman tells UN

Irina

Irina Dovgan, a Ukrainian woman who recently made international headlines after she was publicly abused by Russian-backed militants in eastern Ukraine, testified today before the UN Human Rights Council.

Invited by UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group accredited with the United Nations, Ms. Dovgan testified before the world forum about the arbitrary arrest, illegal detention, torture and public humiliation she suffered.

She discussed the situation of human rights in eastern Ukraine, one week before the council will hear a new report and debate the subject.

Continue reading ‘“I was tortured by Russian-sponsored militants,” Ukrainian woman tells UN’

Russia blames Ukraine, West for the conflict

Russia organized an event at the UN to blame Ukraine and the West for the ongoing conflict.

On September 9, in the midst of the 27th session of Human Rights Council, the Russian UN Mission, the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, and the Russian Peace Foundation held a parallel meeting on the conflict in Ukraine. This meeting specifically focused on the human rights dimension.

The meeting opened with strong patriotic sentiments from the Russian panelists. Regarding the Ukrainian refugees in Russia, Anatoly Salutsky, from the Russian Peace Foundation who moderated the panel, said he was happy to see them “coming home, which is completely understandable.” He was followed by Andrey Nikiforov, a Russian diplomat. Nikiforov focused on the peaceful measures the Russians are taking to alleviate the situation in Ukraine. He first drew attention to the deteriorating conditions of social infrastructure in the conflict zone, arguing that “humanitarian supplies from Russia have eased the situation but not enough to deal with the crisis.” He added, “the recently proposed peace plan supported by President Putin contains 7 points that will make it possible to resolve the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. In this context, it is paramount to follow the conclusion of Geneva declaration, including the language rights of the Russian-speaking minority. We continue to call upon Kiev to follow up with their end of the deal.”

Continue reading ‘Russia blames Ukraine, West for the conflict’

When William Schabas was convicted in 1974, he tried to disqualify the judges for bias

Although William Schabas has mocked calls by eminent jurists for him to step down from the UN’s Gaza inquiry on account of bias — refusing to provide any legal response, instead telling an Arab newspaper that “even if Spider-Man were appointed to head the commission they would attack him — when he himself was once in the dock, Schabas tried to evade conviction by accusing all members of the tribunal with bias.

In 1974, when Schabas was a Ph.D. student in history at the University of Toronto, and a leader in the radical SDS group, he was charged and convicted with violating human rights and freedoms by physically obstructing a visiting Harvard professor from speaking on campus.

Schabas was found guilty on four charges and suspended from the university for four years, later reduced to two.

Interviewed about the episode in 2003, Schabas was “unrepentant about the incident,” reported Toronto Star literary critic Philip Marchand (“Monsters deserve to have their say, too,” Toronto Star, Feb. 1, 2003.)

“Human rights takes the view that speech that promotes hate should be prohibited by law,” said Schabas. “My view hasn’t changed one iota on that.”

Schabas’ actions marked a turning point in Canadian academic culture, according to Marchand, setting a negative precedent for “political correctness and ideological bullying,” and putting an end to “a genuinely adventurous spirit on university campuses.” The episode paved the way to “a pervasive culture of belligerent complaint allied to whining self-righteousness.”

Continue reading ‘When William Schabas was convicted in 1974, he tried to disqualify the judges for bias’

Why it matters when UN rights chief fails to call out worst abusers

In his maiden speech to the Human Rights Council, the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein mentioned several human rights situations, with varying degrees of emergency, ranging from Syria and Iraq to Greece, Australia and Cyprus.

The references to Iraq and Syria were extensive. The reference to Russia was only in passing, about their role “to protect civilians” in relation to the conflict in Ukraine that has already left 3000 people dead. On Greece, the new High Commissioner was concerned “by the shooting of Bangladeshi strawberry pickers in Greece after they had asked for months of back pay, and the acquittal of several of the farmers involved.” Continue reading ‘Why it matters when UN rights chief fails to call out worst abusers’

Jordanian Prince Zeid’s inaugural speech as the UN’s new High Commissioner for Human Rights

zeif headshot

Inaugural speech by Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, the new U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, before the U.N. Human Rights Council, September 8, 2014

Mr. President, Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr. President, I thank you for your warm welcome for which I am truly grateful.    Twenty years ago, I was exposed to a cruel, pointless, war.  I was serving with the UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia, and learnt then a number of simple lessons. Violence at the extreme is so callous, so sickening and beyond the absurd, the human mind can barely edit into comprehensible thoughts what it sees.  No war is worse than another in this regard; all wars, big and small, reveal factories spewing the same wickedness.  And yet, astonishingly, the authors of the crimes themselves, and their supporting communities, will always believe their actions were somehow necessary, even if they knew they were also wrong.  Indeed, every individual, political party, association, ethnic, sectarian, or national group, or government discriminating and inflicting violence on others, believes that when doing so they are excused, or absolved, by circumstance or history.  Continue reading ‘Jordanian Prince Zeid’s inaugural speech as the UN’s new High Commissioner for Human Rights’

UN rushes against Israel, stalls on Eritrea

The UN Human Rights Council has appointed the three Commissioners for the CoI on Gaza. Yet, a similar one established on Eritrea a month before is stalled for at least six more months.

At a July 23 special session on Gaza–its seventh against the Jewish state, more than any other country in the world–it was decided to establish “an independent, international commission of inquiry … to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014.”

On August 11, the three Commissioners were named, and after one declined, a third one was appointed on August 25.

Yet, a similar Commission of Inquiry, established a month before on June 23, seems to have dropped as a UN priority. It focuses on Eritrea, “one of the most closed countries in the world,” with a mandate “to investigate all alleged violations of human rights.”

The Commissioners have yet to be named. In addition, the President of the Human Rights Council revealed in a meeting with NGOs yesterday, that in his meetings with UN officials from the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) as well as its ACABQ (Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions), the budget has still not been approved. This will happen around October 2014 with the CoI to begin its work in January 2015.

The UN Human Rights Council has again showed how Israel-bashing is on top of its priorities, and overrides all other issues. It is another example of the well-known fact that resolutions against Israel serve to keep dictatorial regimes safe from UN scrutiny. Please explain that to the millions suffering of human rights abuses around the world.

 

Ex-UN investigator Richard Falk lashes out at UN Watch for

Richard-Falk

Richard Falk, the infamous 9/11 Truther and author of the New York Times 1979 classic op-ed “Trusting Khomeini,” has not received a moment of our attention since his 6-year term as the UNHRC’s special investigator of “Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law” expired, at long last, in June of this year.

Yet the former committee member of Human Rights Watch, expelled by Ken Roth 24 hours after we protested his role at the global NGO, continues to evince a profound bitterness to UN Watch, the only human rights group at the United Nations that dared to expose his toxic mix of pro-Hamas appeasement, anti-Western invective, support for 9/11 conspiracy theorists and demonization of Israel.

Our allies in condemning Falk’s poison included UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the U.S., the UK, Canada — and the Palestinian Authority, which famously tried to fire him. For a glimpse into Falk’s numerous statements supporting terrorism against America, the West and Israel, click here.

While we stopped watching him after he left the UN, it seems the man is bitter. Here is Falk’s latest tirade against UN Watch, from his essay yesterday on the alleged misuses of anti-Semitism:

I do not claim neutrality on these issues. During the past six years, while serving as UN Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine on behalf of the Human Rights Council, I have been the continuous target of a sustained defamation campaign spearheaded by a Zionist-oriented NGO, UN Watch, based in Geneva. I was repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism, and my views on other issues were likewise distorted to create an impression of bizarre judgment. I was called a supporter of terrorism, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, and the like…

 Because of the atmosphere in North America where demonstrating 100%+ support for Israel has become an indispensable ingredient of political credibility, these defamatory attacks were accepted as valid by several public officials who never bothered to check with me or examine my actual views on such controversial topics.

As a result I was attacked by such luminaries as the UN Secretary General, two U.S. ambassadors to the UN (Susan Rice, Samantha Powers), Foreign Minister of Canada, among others, and a favorite target for Fox TV and the Murdock [sic] media empire.

Additionally, efforts were made to have my lectures cancelled at universities in various places around the world (including McGill and McMaster in Canada, AUB in Beirut, ANU, Melbourne, and Sydney in Australia, Norfolk in the UK, and Princeton, University of Texas, University of Iowa and others in the USA) These universities were warned that unless my campus appearance was cancelled, funding would suffer.

On at least one occasion I was informed that a previous offer of a visiting appointment at an overseas university, Kings College London, was reduced from year-to-year to a single year due to my alleged anti-Semitism.

Even my wife was defamed by such Zionist zealots who tried to defeat her candidacy in the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 to become Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food. She was accused of writing inflammatory anti-Israeli tracts in collaboration with me, a complete lie as we had never collaborated on this subject-matter, and it was further alleged that she shared my anti-Semitic views, which is a double lie.

On the writings of his wife Hilal Elver Falk concerning “Israel’s Water Apartheid,” click here.

Double standard: UN on Iraq-ISIS vs. UN on Israel-Hamas

Hamas collaborators

Whatever their differences, the Sunni Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Gaza share a great deal in common: they believe in and perpetrate the killing of civilians in the name of Jihad, they despise the West and its culture of freedom and democracy, and they seek to dominate their subject populations by theocratic, fascist, misogynistic, and homophobic regimes. ISIS has been far more successful than Hamas, but not for the latter’s lack of effort.

At the UN Human Rights Council, however, they are treated very differently. The Islamic terrorists fighting Israel get preferred treatment.

Consider today’s resolution on Iraq in comparison with the council’s recently-adopted resolution on Gaza.

Treatment of Islamic terrorists:

  • Today’s UNHRC resolution on Iraq condemned ISIS 10 times.
  • The July UNHRC resolution on Gaza mentioned Hamas 0 times.

Treatment of governments responding to Islamic terrorists:

  • Today’s UNHRC resolution on Iraq condemned the Baghdad government 0 times — even though Baghdad’s troops dropped barrel bombs on civilians, carried out summary executions of Sunnis, and perpetrated indiscriminate airstrikes on populated areas and other war crimes.
  • The UNHRC’s July resolution on Gaza condemned the Israeli government 18 times, even though Jerusalem took unprecedented measures to avoid harming civilians, including warnings with phone calls, text messages, leaflets, and roof knocking; and also aborting aerial strikes seconds before they were to be carried out, due to civilians being present at the site of the target.

Not only did today’s resolution fail to criticize Iraq’s Shiite government in any way, but the UNHRC actually praised the Sunni-killing Baghdad regime’s purported “efforts to foster religious freedom and pluralism.”

Just like , in 2009, the 47-nation council praised Sri Lanka — after it murdered 40,000 Tamils — for “promoting and protecting human rights.”

Rights group criticizes UN resolution for giving free pass to Baghdad abuses, sending low-level mission on ISIS

Iraq UN Watch against genocide

GENEVA, September 1, 2014 – A 21-year-old Iraqi Christian woman made an impassioned appeal today before a UN meeting on ISIS atrocities, speaking on behalf of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch, which spearheaded this month’s campaign by rights activists, MPs and Iraqi minority leaders calling for the emergency session, with a rally, press conference and diplomatic marathon featuring Iraqi Christian and Yazidi leaders. (See Maryam Wahida’s testimony below.)

“Today’s urgent session on the Islamic State’s butchering of Iraq’s Christians, Yazidis and other minorities is long overdue, but it’s better late than never,” said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer. Continue reading ‘Rights group criticizes UN resolution for giving free pass to Baghdad abuses, sending low-level mission on ISIS’

UN names Mary McGowan Davis to Schabas Commission on Gaza

mary-mcgowan-davis

UN press release follows below.

HRC/14/102
25 August 2014

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL PRESIDENT APPOINTS JUSTICE MARY MCGOWAN DAVIS TO SERVE AS ADDITIONAL MEMBER OF THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY RELATED TO MILITARY OPERATIONS IN THE GAZA STRIP

Geneva, 25 August 2014 — The President of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella (Gabon), today announced the appointment of Mary McGowan Davis as an additional member of the Commission of Inquiry charged with investigating human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014.  Justice McGowan Davis will join William Schabas and Doudou Diène whose appointments were announced by the Council President on 11 August.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry was established by the Council through resolution S-21/1 adopted at its special session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory on 23 July 2014.  As mandated by the Human Rights Council, the Commission of Inquiry will investigate all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law since the current military operations began in mid-June.

In carrying out its work, the Commission of Inquiry will aim to establish the facts and circumstances of human rights violations and crimes perpetrated in order to identify those responsible.  The Council also requested that the Commission of Inquiry present a written report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-eighth session in March 2015.

The President of the Human Rights Council is continuing to hold consultations in order to find ways to further strengthen the Commission of Inquiry in its work.

Biographies of the members of the Commission of Inquiry

Mary McGowan Davis (United States of America) served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York and as a federal prosecutor during the course of a 24-year career in the criminal justice sector in New York City. She also has extensive experience in the fields of international human rights law and transitional justice. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for the International Commission of Jurists and the International Judicial Academy, and serves on the Managerial Board of the International Association of Women Judges. Justice McGowan Davis also served as a member and then Chair of the UN Committee of Independent Experts tasked with following up on the findings of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict occurring between December 2008 and January 2009.

Doudou Diène (Senegal) was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance from 2002 to 2008 and the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire from 2011 to 2014. Mr. Diène holds a doctorate in public law from the University of Paris law degree from the University of Caen (France).

William Schabas (Canada) is professor of international law at Middlesex University in London. He is also professor of international criminal law and human rights at Leiden University as well as emeritus professor human rights law at the Irish Centre for Human Rights of the National University of Ireland Galway. From 2002 to 2004, he served as one of three international members of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Mr. Schabas was also a member and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in Human Rights and has drafted the 2010 report of the Secretary-General on the status of the death penalty.