Testimony delivered by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, UN Human Rights Council’s “Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur Richard Falk,” 10 June 2013.
Mr. Falk, in the first page of your report, you attack my NGO and ask this Council to launch an investigation in order to shut us down.
Does your report allege a crime? No, you simply object to our words. We are the only watchdog at the UN, and we report what you say. In reprisal, you now seek to muzzle our voice, to avoid being held accountable.
The real issue is whether your work, conducted under the banner of human rights, actually exonerates and exculpates the perpetrators of terrorism.
Exhibit A, which I am holding up, is this book by David Ray Griffin, the bible for those who blame America, instead of Al Qaeda, for the 9/11 attacks. Do you deny that this is your name on the front cover, praising the author’s “fortitude,” “courage,” and “intelligence”?
Do you understand why Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, appearing in this room in January 2011, delivered an unprecedented condemnation of a UN expert, when he called your remarks, quote: “preposterous, and an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack”?
Exhibit B: “The Wandering Who,” a book condemned as antisemitic even by your own top supporter, Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada. Do you deny that, once again, this is your name on the front cover, endorsing it? Do you understand why the British Foreign Office has officially accused you of racism, on multiple occasions?
Exhibit C: Your article of two months ago, blaming the Boston terrorist attack—which left more than 300 dead and grievously wounded—on, quote “the American global domination project and “Tel Aviv.” Do you deny justifying the attacks as a form, of quote, “resistance”?
Do you understand why the Secretary-General announced that he rejected your comments, saying they, quote, “undermine the credibility and the work of the United Nations”? And why this condemnation was echoed by Britain, Canada, the U.S., and many others?
When we recently brought all of this to the attention of Human Rights Watch, within 24 hours they removed you from their committee.
Finally, according to a cable revealed by Wikileaks, on February 16, 2009, the Palestinian delegate to this council complained to his US counterpart about your support for Hamas, saying that “he had called Falk personally and asked him to step down, something Falk angrily rejected.”
So, Mr. Falk, please feel free to investigate us — and to investigate the UN Secretary-General; Britain; Canada; the U.S.; Human Rights Watch; and the State of Palestine. Thank you, Mr. President.
UNHRC President Remigiusz Henczel
I thank you, the representative of United Nations Watch. But as I mentioned, there should be no personal attacks against the Special Rapporteur.
Richard Falk Concluding Remarks (Repeating His Call to “Investigate” UN Watch)
… Finally, the defamatory remarks that were repeated again this morning only underscore the importance of investigating whether a NGO that is accredited to the UN has some kind of responsibility to address the substance of their concerns, and not concentrate on distracting attention from the urgent issues covered in the report.
And what is most distressing is the fact that UN officials have not really protected the Special Rapporteur, or the mandate, in response to such defamation.
And this seems to me to suggest the need—not only in my case, but generally—for Special Rapporteurs to be protected in their efforts to discharge, as conscientiously as they are able to, often under difficult circumstances, the burden of their mandate to protect, to the extent possible, a vulnerable people.
Mr. Special Rapporteur, Colleagues, let me remind you all that as per Resolution 5/1 the only criteria for a NGO to participate in the Human Rights Council is that the NGO be in consultative status with ECOSOC. Accordingly, responsibility for NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC is with the NGO Committee of ECOSOC.
Furthermore, I continue encouraging NGOs to discuss issues with appropriate level of dignity and respect. This means and implies that all of us will have to respect and tolerate arguments and ideas expressed by others that may at times be uncomfortable to listen to.