Author Archive for Hillel Neuer

UNESCO honors executioner Che Guevara

Cuba held a ceremony on Friday to celebrate UNESCO’s despicable decision to include “The Life and Works of Ernesto Che Guevara” among 54 new additions to the Memory of the World Register, approved on June 18 by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

Spanish news agency EFE has the most information on the ceremony, with quotes from Che’s family members who attended the event. Here is the official UNESCO page documenting the inclusion of 431 manuscripts by Che and 567 documents about Che or related to him.

Claudia Rosett offers the best analysis, explaining the absurdity and immorality in UNESCO’s decision, and quoting historian Paul Berman’s 2004 Slate article on Guevara. Continue reading ‘UNESCO honors executioner Che Guevara’

China to Head UN’s Worst Failed Agency

Although China‘s state-controlled media is boasting of Vice Finance Minister Li Yong’s election yesterday as Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, UNIDO arguably ranks as the worst of the world body’s failed agencies.

Last month, UNIDO selected Iran to head its Program and Budget Committee.

Among other achievements, UNIDO appears to hold the world record of canceled memberships: Continue reading ‘China to Head UN’s Worst Failed Agency’

Vice-Chair of UN Rights Panel Works for Saudi Gov’t, Defends Misogyny

What the UN forgot to mention today is that the Vice-Chair of the committee accusing Israel of violating children’s rights works for the Saudi government and has a despicable record of apologetics for her country’s misogyny.

About half the members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child come from non-democracies, many of whom take unfriendly or hostile positions against Israel at the UN, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Russia.

Although the Committee on the Rights of the Child is supposed to be made up of independent, objective and professional experts on human rights, Vice-Chair Aseil Al-Shehail — like too many of her peers on the panel — is none of those things. Continue reading ‘Vice-Chair of UN Rights Panel Works for Saudi Gov’t, Defends Misogyny’

Israel sends letter to UN rights council president seeking “fruitful dialogue”

The UN today just circulated this letter sent by Israel to the UN Human Rights Council president, confirming Jerusalem’s intention to negotiate the issues surrounding its possible return to the troubled body.

The council can show good faith by removing its notorious agenda item on Israel, the only provision of its kind that requires a special and separate focus on a particular country at every meeting. Not even gross abusers like China, Sudan, or Syria, nor any other country in the world, is subjected to this kind of treatment. Continue reading ‘Israel sends letter to UN rights council president seeking “fruitful dialogue”’

Obama Administration seeks UNESCO funding as session targets Israel in 5 agenda items

In the same week that UNESCO opened its Executive Board session with five anti-Israel agenda items, the Obama Administration asked Congress to waive legislative restrictions and approve $77.7 million in funding for the Paris-based agency.

From the 2014 budget request:

The Administration seeks Congressional support for legislation that would provide authority to waive legislative restrictions that, if triggered, would prohibit paying U.S. contributions to United Nations specialized agencies that grant the Palestinians the same standing as member states or full membership as a state. Should the Congress pass this waiver legislation, the FY 2014 funding specifically requested for UNESCO would cover the FY 2014 UNESCO assessment and the FY 2013 and FY 2014 Contingent Requirements funding would cover arrears which accrued in FY 2012 and FY 2013. Continue reading ‘Obama Administration seeks UNESCO funding as session targets Israel in 5 agenda items’

Born in Sin: The Hidden Origin of the U.N. Human Rights Council

With the New York Times and other high-minded critics slamming Israel for allegedly violating the principles of the UN Human Rights Council, it is worth recalling how, in June 2007,  the council itself acted with flagrant illegality and dishonesty — flouting its its own basic procedures, and then rewriting history to cover it up — in order to falsely claim the “consensus” adoption of its permanent agenda, which unfairly singles out Israel for selective treatment.

To block Canada from calling a vote and registering its objection to this gross form of anti-Israel bias, the council falsely claimed the decision was already taken.

UN Watch documented all of the illegality, dishonesty and ensuing cover-up. Canada, the US, and Poland filed official complaints to the UN that further detailed these gross irregularities.  See key links below. Continue reading ‘Born in Sin: The Hidden Origin of the U.N. Human Rights Council’

New York Times: “Palestinians are not a people”

Did the New York Times really say the Palestinians are not a people? Well, no, and, of course, never.

But one week after world leaders condemned the Turkish prime minister for calling Zionism a crime against humanity, the Times apparently had no trouble giving coveted space from its online Opinion page to a manifesto by an unknown college teacher arguing that Israel has no right to exist, and that the very idea of a Jewish people — “scattered across the globe, speaking many different languages and defined largely by religion” — present a “difficult case.”

We had thought the League of Nations and the United Nations long ago settled this question within the tribunals of international law. But apparently not for Amhert professor Joseph Levine, nor for the New York Times.

Levine takes it as a given that the Palestinian Arabs have a natural claim to the same right of self-determination that he is so quick to deny to Israel and Jewish people. Indeed he argues that the very idea of Israel as a Jewish state “is in fact a violation of the right to self-determination” of its Palestinian inhabitants. (By the way, the UN resolution of 29 November 1947 embracing the creation of a “Jewish state” mentions that term no less than 30 times.)

The poorly argued article is replete with other such glaring self-contradictions, is poorly written, and offers so little of value in originality, creativity or timeliness, that one has to wonder why the world’s top newspaper decided to publish it.

In other writings, Levine’s bitter hatred for Israel and his native-born Judaism are more overtly stated:

Let’s be clear what founding the Jewish State of Israel involved, and continues to involve. We came into another people’s land — admittedly, after enduring centuries of oppression ourselves — kicked them out brutally, and treated those who remained like dirt. We continue to oppress Palestinians horribly, and shamelessly exploit our own history of oppression and guilt-trip the rest of the world into letting us get away with it. This is how God’s people act? Not any God I wanted to have anything to do with.

UN researcher reports UN session on Israel that never happened

Nicola Perugini, a UN researcher in the Palestinian territories for UNESCO and UNIFEM (the UN women’s fund), and who has academic positions at Bard College’s Al Quds program and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, should be removed from his UN and scholarly posts on grounds of utter incompetence.

His Feb. 22 Al Jazaeera article on the latest UNHRC report on Israeli settlements tells us all about a session in January which, in fact, never took place:

Continue reading ‘UN researcher reports UN session on Israel that never happened’

UN Settlements Probe Had Verdict Declared in Advance

If you think last week’s report  by the UN Human Rights Council settlements probe, led by Christine Chanet, was an objective examination of the facts, consider yourself a fool.

The resolution authorizing the “fact finding” mission — with the mandate to investigate how Israeli settlements affect the “civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people” — decided from the outset that the settlements constituted “very serious violations” of “the human rights of the Palestinian people.”

That and numerous other conclusions of fact and law were dictated in advance — see full text of the resolution below — in blatant violation of the UN’s own objectivity and impartiality requirements, as set forth in its Declaration on Fact-finding, GA Res 46/59 (1991), Art. 3.

Sadly, when it comes to the HRC’s mandates on Israel, this is not the exception but the rule. Previous commissioners, and leading NGOs, have acknowledged this repeated bias:

  • The authors of the HRC’s inquiry into the 2006 Lebanon war — which examined only actions by Israel and ignored those by Hezbollah — admitted that to be “independent, impartial and objective,” their investigation would have had to examine all sides. They declined to remedy their probe’s one-sided bias, however,  so as not to “exceed the Commission’s interpretative function” and “usurp the Council’s powers.” (Report, Pars. 6-7.)
  • Judge Richard Goldstone, whose report was endorsed by the Hamas terrorist organization, refused the mandate created by the UNHRC, as did former UN rights chief Mary Robinson, because it was “biased against Israel.” The eventual mandate he agreed to take on was one he purported to have revised so that it examined all sides. (For more, see note 25 here.)
  • Even Human Rights Watch, a sharp critic of Israel, acknowledged in this context that “an investigation that looks at the actions of only one party is insufficient and will be criticized, justifiably, as biased and incomplete.”

So why is it that Christine Chanet, Asma Janhangir and Unity Dow accepted a mandate that may lead to investigations of alleged breaches of international humanitarian law, without insisting upon an objective mandate inquiring into the conduct of all parties to the conflict — one that did not unduly restrict the mission in the investigation of the subject and its context? Why did they accept a predetermined verdict?

Continue reading ‘UN Settlements Probe Had Verdict Declared in Advance’

UN fact-finding mission to Tibet?

I just received the press release below from a Tibetan activist group. The long-suffering Tibetan people desperately need the world’s help. Sadly, however, the chances that the U.N. will send a fact-finding mission to investigate China’s abuses in Tibet are between zero and nil.

U.N. rights official slams Canada, “concerned” over Aboriginal rights

Should the U.N. — which last year elected Assad’s Syria to UNESCO’s human rights committee — devote its scarce time and resources to free democracies and open societies such as Canada?

For context, note that the expert below works for the U.N. Human Rights Council, a dictator-dominated entity that just elected the Chavez government, Pakistan and Kazakhstan as members. They also elected a new vice-president: the representative from slave-holding Mauritania.

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The following press release was circulated today by the office of the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

Canada: UN expert calls for meaningful dialogue with Aboriginal leaders after weeks of protests

GENEVA (8 January 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, urged the Government of Canada and Aboriginal leaders to undertake meaningful dialogue in light of First Nations protests and a month-long hunger strike by Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation.

“I am encouraged by reports that Prime Minister Steven Harper has agreed to meet with First Nations Chiefs and leadership on 11 January 2013 to discuss issues related to Aboriginal and treaty rights as well as economic development,” Mr. Anaya said. “Both the Government of Canada and First Nations representatives must take full advantage of this opportunity to rebuild relationships in a true spirit of good faith and partnership.”

The announcement of the meeting followed weeks of protests carried out by Aboriginal leaders and activists within a movement referred to as ‘Idle no more.’ The movement has been punctuated by Chief Spence’s hunger strike that has been ongoing since 11 December 2012. “I would like to add my voice to the concern expressed by many over the health condition of Chief Spence, who I understand will be joining indigenous leaders at this week’s meeting,” the independent expert said.

The protests and hunger strike are carried in the context of complaints about aspects of the relationships between First Nations in Canada and the Government, including in the context of recent federal legislation and executive decisions affecting Aboriginal peoples. Continue reading ‘U.N. rights official slams Canada, “concerned” over Aboriginal rights’

UNESCO booklet still lists Assad’s Syria as human rights judge

If a government has violated your freedom of speech, opinion, thought, conscience, assembly or association, you can file a complaint with the human rights committee of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

There’s only one catch, as indicated in this recent UNESCO booklet: one of the judges deciding your case will be the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading ‘UNESCO booklet still lists Assad’s Syria as human rights judge’

Hypocrisy at the UN: dictatorships reject “country-specific” resolutions, then adopt 22 country-specific resolutions on Israel

In an astonishing display of hypocrisy even by U.N. standards, numerous country delegates gave impassioned speeches last week objecting to the adoption of resolutions criticizing the murderous regimes of IranNorth Korea and Syria, saying they rejected the practice of singling out specific countries; and then proceeded, only moments later, to vote for a resolution — which most of them also co-sponsored — singling out democratic Israel.

There will be a total of 22 one-sided resolutions targeting the Jewish state in this session of the U.N. General Assembly, and only 4 on the rest of the world combined. Continue reading ‘Hypocrisy at the UN: dictatorships reject “country-specific” resolutions, then adopt 22 country-specific resolutions on Israel’

Germany promises dictatorships “no confrontation” to win UNHRC seat

How’s this for absurd? It seems that for Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Greece and the United States to win one of three allotted Western seats on the U.N. Human Rights Council, our democracies are obliged to prostrate themselves before the world’s worst dictatorships.

Each candidate requires a minimum of 97 affirmative votes in tomorrow’s U.N. General Assembly ballot; the three with the most votes win.  See full details in UN Watch’s new report.

Because there are so many non-democracies and tyrannies among the 193 voting nations, candidates like Germany are effectively promising to give gross violators a free pass, perpetuate the Council’s dysfunctional functioning as a toothless talk shop, and proclaim that Western democracies are no better than anyone else.

Here’s what we learn from AFP:

The Geneva-based council’s new importance could be seen by the stepped up lobbying for spots. Germany sent foreign minister Guido Westerwelle to New York this week to press his country’s case.
“This is really a key issue, human rights, for us,” Westerwelle told a reception for UN ambassadors. Specifically, here is what he promised the voters:
The Human Rights Council should not be a venue for making “sweeping allegations,” the minister added.

Ken Roth Flip-Flop: HRW Promised ICC Wouldn’t Target Israel, Yet Now Lobbies for It

(Note: See Nov. 30 update below.)

Will the International Criminal Court be used as a political weapon against Israel? Should it?

In 2001, when trying to convince Americans to buy into the ICC, Human Rights Watch promised one thing; now it actively lobbies for the opposite.

Today, Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth criticized a New York Times editorial that he says “ignores key effect of Palestine observer state: possibility of joining [the] ICC and deterring both sides’ war crimes.”

This is hardly the first time that Human Rights Watch has justified and supported the Palestinian attempt to use the International Criminal Court in The Hague to pursue politically motivated cases against Israel: Continue reading ‘Ken Roth Flip-Flop: HRW Promised ICC Wouldn’t Target Israel, Yet Now Lobbies for It’

UN’s 9/11 conspiracist calls for boycott of HP, Volvo, Motorola & Caterpillar

In advance of his appearance today before the General Assembly, Richard Falk, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s permanent investigator of “Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law,” has just released a new report calling on civil society to “vigorously pursue initiatives to boycott, divest and sanction” HP, Motorola, Volvo, Caterpillar, and other businesses having commercial connections with Israeli activities in the West Bank.

Falk was just condemned by the British government for his “anti-Semitic” remarks, with the Foreign Office delivering a protest to the U.N. that expressed London’s “serious concerns” over his “unacceptable” comments. UN Watch urged the U.S., France, Germany and other democracies to follow suit by taking the floor today to condemn Falk’s anti-Jewish remarks.

Five Facts on Falk:

1. Last week, Falk justified his 1979 New York Times op-ed titled “Trusting Khomeini.”

Continue reading ‘UN’s 9/11 conspiracist calls for boycott of HP, Volvo, Motorola & Caterpillar’

U.N. announces end of the world, celebrates “Mayan Cosmovision 2012″

Last week they were announcing the “International Year of Quinoa,” starring Bolivian President Evo “Baby Chavez” Morales; now this.

I’ve just received the email below, sent by the U.N. to accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs). U.S. taxpayers, you are paying for 22 percent of this:

Subject: Invitation to “The Mayan Cosmovision: Is 2012 the end of the world?” – Wednesday, 24 October at 1.30pm – Room S-2726, 27th floor, Secretariat Building, UN Headquarters Continue reading ‘U.N. announces end of the world, celebrates “Mayan Cosmovision 2012″’

U.N.’s Richard Falk justifies his 1979 “Trusting Khomeini” NYT op-ed

As the IAEA and the international community increasingly focus on the Iranian government’s menacing race for a nuclear bomb, a new article on the 1979 revolution by Richard Falk, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s permanent investigator of “Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law,” reminds us once again how he was a key U.S. promoter of the fundamentalist regime’s establishment. And how he today remains completely unrepentant.

Days after Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in 1979, Falk reassured the world, in a New York Times op-ed titled “Trusting Khomeini,” that “the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.”

Khomeini’s entourage, wrote Falk, had “a notable record of concern for human rights.” Indeed, the ayatollah’s “new model of popular revolution” offered the world “a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.”

Falk’s long-winded pondering about his actions leading up to the revolution reaches the happy conclusion that he was completely justified all along:

I continue to believe that despite the dangers of visionary politics, it is the only hope we have as a species of creating a sustainable and just future for humanity.

Falk wants us to believe that his endorsement of Khomeini made complete sense because it was “authentic” and based on his “best understanding” at the time:

I am inclined to think that my response to what took place in Iran was authentic at its various phases, reflecting my best understanding of the unfolding circumstances, adjusting my evaluations phase by phase. I prefer such a view, even in retrospect, to indifference to the Shah’s oppressive regime, while realizing that drastic change, especially in a country endowed with abundant oil reserves, is almost certain to be a rocky road. Should I have been immediately more suspicious of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic dimensions of the revolution? Probably, but it was not clear at the time…

Not clear at the time? Not to Falk, perhaps. But to others, it was very clear. Shortly after Falk’s “Trusting Khomeini” op-ed, the Times’ own Anthony Lewis wrote a column entitled “Trusting Illusions.”

Falk’s assurances, said Lewis, were “outstandingly silly.” His analysis was “distorted,” he added. “No one should have expected Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini to to  be comfortable liberal — or stable.”

Folly carries a price, and legions of Iranian men and women—brutalized, tortured and raped by the Islamic Republic—continue to pay the price for what Richard Falk and others helped install.

As is his wont, Falk finds a way at the end of his 1979 memoir to insert a contemporary attack against Israel and the U.S., while completely ignoring Iran’s race for the nuclear bomb and — despite his being a U.N. expert — all of the UN Security Council resolutions and damning IAEA reports about Iran’s furtive, illegal and alarming activities, which now threaten the peace of the world.

For more on Richard Falk, click here.

UN’s latest commission of inquiry on Israel

From Morocco to Indonesia,  Iraq to Nigeria, embassies burn, the streets are aflame, diplomats and bystanders are murdered by whipped-up mobs.

Yet the only thing worrying the U.N. Human  Rights Council is Israeli settlements, where Jews live in the tiny area of the West Bank, what the U.N. in its 1947 partition plan called “the hill country of Samaria and Judea.”

Here’s the latest update from the latest inquisitor in what is the council’s permanent Inquisition of Israel. By way of background we list all of the council’s inquiries on Israel since 2006.

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Continue reading ‘UN’s latest commission of inquiry on Israel’

Syrians slaughtered, but U.N. too busy condemning Israel 3 times

As Syrians continue to be slaughtered, the U.N. is once again too busy condemning Israel to respond to those pleading for help in Aleppo and elsewhere.

The world body’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the principal organ under the U.N. Charter tasked with addressing human rights and fundamental freedoms, has just concluded its annual session by turning a blind eye to the ongoing massacres by the Assad regime. Instead,  a list of all its resolutions for the entire world shows that ECOSOC condemned only one single country: Israel. Two resolutions were adopted against Israel, and one report.

Continue reading ‘Syrians slaughtered, but U.N. too busy condemning Israel 3 times’

War is Peace: Assad regime wins adoption of “Right to Peace” resolution at U.N. Human Rights Council

Syria’s Assad regime has its hands full murdering its own people in Homs, Hama and Damascus. Yet somehow it managed to find time today to successfully co-sponsor a “Right to Peace” resolution, adopted today by the U.N. Human Rights Council, that endorses a draft declaration (see Art. 7) calling  for a right of “resistance,” a term used in the Middle East used to justify terrorism.

Only the U.S. had the courage to oppose the Orwellian text. Here is the U.S. statement explaining some of what’s wrong with the text. The exercise will cost over $300,000 to implement.

What the U.S. did not mention, however, is that the  resolution calls for a new declaration to be based on a draft that legitimizes terrorism.

By promoting a “right to resist and oppose oppressive colonial, foreign occupation,” the council effectively gives a nod to the “resistance” justification commonly used by Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations to launch attacks against Americans, Israelis and others.

Led by Cuba, the resolution’s co-sponsors included Syria, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Belarus, China, Palestine, Sri Lanka, as well as Venezuela and its allies Bolivia and Nicaragua.

The draft declaration was prepared by the council’s 18-member Advisory Committee, a rogues gallery that includes the pro-Ahmadinejad Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann; Jean Ziegler, co-founder of the Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize; and Halima Warzazi, a former defender of Saddam Hussein. Thanks to UN Watch, all three are on a congressional watchlist.

Today’s vote result: 34 in favour, 1 against (USA), and 12 abstentions (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Italy, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland).

Syria uses UN censure of Canada to deflect attention from its genocide

UN rights chief Navi Pillay’s disproportionate censure of Canada before the 47-nation Human Rights Council on Monday was immediately exploited by anti-democratic regimes to divert attention from their crimes.

  • Syria, facing world condemnation over its mass killings, took the floor to gloat about how “the High Commissioner said in her report that there is repression in Canada.”
  • Sri Lanka, on the defensive for refusing to investigate its 2009 killing of 40,000 civilians, stated that it was “surprised by Canada.”
  • North Korea, accused of gross atrocities, rejected Canada’s “hypocritical behavior,” saying Ottawa “would be well advised to handle its own affairs.” Echoing Pillay’s remarks almost verbatim, North Korea called on Canada to address its “suppression of freedom of association and and peaceful assembly.”

UNHRC president willing to take action after NGO complaint over Canadian dis of hunger expert

GENEVA, June 14 – In a meeting today between NGOs and UN Human Rights Council President Laura Dupuy Lassere, the International Commission of Jurists said they would send a letter on behalf of many NGOs to the President with regard to the visit to Canada by right to food expert Olivier De Schutter.

The rights groups are concerned with the “personal attacks” against the Special Rapporteur by Canadian government officials and politicians, which they said put into doubt Canada’s commitment to cooperate with the independent experts. The NGOs asked the President to intervene with the Canadian ambassador so she can clarify her government’s position. Continue reading ‘UNHRC president willing to take action after NGO complaint over Canadian dis of hunger expert’

UN rights council president to name members of settlements inquiry

A delegation from UN Watch participated together with other NGOs in a Geneva meeting today with UN Human Rights Council President Laura Dupuy Lassere. Peter Splinter of Amnesty International asked about the fact-finding mission on settlements, which was established in March but whose commissioners have not yet been appointed. The President replied that consultations are underway. She hopes to present the names during the 3-week council session that opens this Monday, so that they can be appointed at the end, and the commission can start its work.

I find it odd that the president plans to present the names to the council — the relevant resolution empowers her to name them on her own, as has always been done in the past. Either it’s a stalling tactic (Haaretz had earlier reported that the US asked the UN to delay the appointments), or the president wants to share responsibility for the decision. The council’s infamous 2009 Goldstone Report  included one commissioner who declared Israel guilty in advance, and another who said that British foreign policy was controlled by the Jews.
When this new settlement inquiry’s mandate was created in March, Israel severed its ties with the 47-nation council, as well as with the affiliated office of High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. Similarly, the U.S. delegation said it was “deeply troubled to be presented with yet another biased, politicized, and one-sided resolution that launches an international investigation of Israel.  This initiative is reminiscent of previous missions authorized by this Council, which failed to acknowledge that there are two sides in this conflict.”

UN itself thinks UN rights council hunger expert is a fraud

Apart from his gushing praise of Syria, and the origins of his dictator-driven mandate, here are other key facts that UN Human Rights Council hunger expert Olivier De Schutter and his supporters didn’t want Canadians to know this week:

1. Contrary to what  the Toronto Star’s David Olive reported, De Schutter does not speak for the UN. As an independent expert of the UN Human Rights Council, holding a mandate initiated by Cuba and other tyrannies, he reports to the council but speaks only for himself. As High Commissioner Pillay confirmed to me in a letter, “special procedures mandate-holders are neither representatives nor employees of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights”; instead they  serve  ”in their independent capacities.” Continue reading ‘UN itself thinks UN rights council hunger expert is a fraud’

UN hunger expert hails Syrian “openness” & “excellent” cooperation

Above: The UN Human Rights Council’s Cuban-sponsored Olivier De Schutter, left, with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad. Damascus, 2010.

Today the UN Human Rights Council’s “right to food” expert made international headlines with a stinging report on the urgent food crisis in. . . Canada.  How absurd.

On May 4th, just before Olivier De Schutter began his 11-day investigation of the great Canadian food emergency, I asked his Geneva spokesperson, Ms. Yoonie Kim, what her boss planned to say about the genuine  hunger situation facing 500,000 people in Syria.

She replied that De Schutter had no plans to say anything at all about Syria. This, she explained, was because (a) he had no first-hand knowledge of the situation and (b) other UN officials were already dealing with it. Funny, neither supposed obstacle has ever prevented him from opining sharply on all kinds of other situations around the globe. Continue reading ‘UN hunger expert hails Syrian “openness” & “excellent” cooperation’

Latest U.N. Gobbledygook: “Gender Implications of International Solidarity”

Today’s announcement by the office of UN human rights chief Navi Pillay about an “Expert Workshop on Human Rights and International Solidarity,” which it will organize on June 7-8 in Geneva, provides a classic example of the gobbledygook emanating from the highest quarters of the UN:

[This will be] a workshop for an exchange of views on, inter alia, the gender implications of international solidarity, the impact of a right to international solidarity, the role of international solidarity in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the realization of the right to development, with the participation of representatives from all interested States, the independent expert, the members of the Advisory Committee dealing with this issue, and civil society.” Continue reading ‘Latest U.N. Gobbledygook: “Gender Implications of International Solidarity”’

Obama Rights Envoy Accuses UN Human Rights Council of Anti-Semitism

One of President Obama’s top human rights officials has accused the  UN Human Rights Council of anti-Semitism.

In a speech delivered yesterday before the superb Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism — before whom I had the pleasure to speak recently in Winnipeg — Hannah Rosenthal, the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, addressed the “increasing tendency of blurring the lines between opposition to the policies of the State of Israel and anti-Semitism.”

Citing Natan Sharansky’s 3-D test to identify where sharp but legitimate criticism crosses the line into anti-Semitism — namely, where there is demonization, delegitimization or double standards — Rosenthal provided examples of such anti-Semitism occurring at the United Nations: Continue reading ‘Obama Rights Envoy Accuses UN Human Rights Council of Anti-Semitism’

Sri Lanka clueless on exit of key allies China & Russia from UN rights council

Sri Lankans worried over their government’s failure to block a recent UN resolution on its 2009  mass killings of Tamil civilians now have even greater reason to doubt the competence of Colombo officials.

According to a report today in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Leader, the government is concerned that four countries who voted with it in the March session of the UN Human Rights Council, including key allies China and Russia, are to see their terms end in June, putting them in a poorer position to defend the country when it goes before its automatic quadrennial review in October.

But the government is completely wrong.

In fact, the membership terms this year end in December (see UN website here). Their October concern is moot — China and Russia will both still be full members. How the Sri Lankan government could be ignorant of such key facts ought to raise serious questions among its citizens.

Note to Colombo: From 2006-2011, UNHRC elections were held each year in May, and members rotated on and off in June. The new system beginning in 2013 will have membership coincide with the calendar year. In this transitional year, members like China and Russia get an extra six months, exiting in December 2012 instead of June 2012. Elections for the new 2013 members are expected in the fall.

Palestinians failed to win urgent UNHRC session against Israel

Although on this Monday, March 19th, the UN Human Rights Council will already be holding an entire day devoted to Israel’s alleged misdeeds, as it does at every one of its meetings, pursuant to a special agenda item targeting Israel, the Palestinian delegation this week took the floor dramatically (see video here) to demand that the council pause all of its deliberations on world human rights problems in order to hold an “Urgent Debate” this week on Israel’s alleged criminality in Gaza during the recent flare-up.

So far, and this is exceptional if not  unheard of at the UNHRC, the Palestinians seem to have failed to muster support for such an interruption to the session schedule. See the recent HRC bureau minutes below. Continue reading ‘Palestinians failed to win urgent UNHRC session against Israel’