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Archive for the 'Human Rights Council (UNHRC)' Category
Left: Faisal Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Geneva,
has been elected Chair of the UN Human Rights Council
panel that appoints independent experts. Right: Michael Møller,
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
GENEVA, September 20, 2015 – U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and EU foreign minister Federica Mogherini should condemn and work to reverse the appointment of Saudi Arabia as head of a key UN Human Rights Council panel that selects top officials who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide, said UN Watch, a non-governmental watchdog organization based in Geneva.
“It is scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.”
“Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi,” Neuer added.
“This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief, and underscores the credibility deficit of a human rights council that already counts Russia, Cuba, China, Qatar and Venezuela among its elected members.” Continue reading ‘Again: Saudi Arabia Elected Chair of UN Human Rights Council Panel’
GENEVA, Sept. 11, 2015 - The following proposed resolution to suspend Venezuela from the United Nations Human Rights Council, was submitted today by UN Watch to the following member states for them to table it at the UNHRC session opening on 14 September 2015: the United States, France, Germany, and the UK.
Draft Resolution for the
United Nations Human Rights Council
30th Session, September 14-25, 2015
Situation of Human Rights in Venezuela
The Human Rights Council,
Guided by the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and recalling the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments,
Reaffirming that all Member States have an obligation to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and the duty to fulfil the obligations they have undertaken under the various international instruments in this field,
Gravely concerned that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has severely restricted freedom of expression, prosecuted government critics, inhibited the activities of human rights organizations, and undermined the independence of its judiciary, thereby creating a chilling effect amongst the general public and media at large within Venezuela, Continue reading ‘Draft UNHRC Resolution to Suspend Venezuela from its Membership’
By virtue of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, and the UN Charter, the U.S. Federal Court has ruled that “the UN is immune from suit unless it expressly waives its immunity.”
Likewise, the Appeal Court in The Hague ruled that “the UN has been granted the most far-reaching immunity, in the sense that the UN cannot be brought before any national court of law in the countries that are a party to the Convention.”
Faced with compelling evidence of UNRWA personnel inciting to anti-Semitism and violence, spokesman Chris Gunness has responded with a campaign of attacks against UN Watch, reminiscent of the smear campaigns of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy.
UNWRA spokesperson Chris Gunness promised to fire UNRWA officials who promote antisemitic violence, a pledge that will be put to the test this week as UN Watch submits detailed evidence of such incitement to the United Nations.
Gunness’ comments were made in response to information documented two weeks ago by the blogger Elder of Ziyon.
Gunness’ comments, recorded at 4:00 in the video above, from August 19, 2o15:
If there are allegations, and if this is true, it is indeed a very big problem, and we will deal with it. Where we find credible allegations of neutrality violations among our staff, we investigate and where it’s appropriate we take disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. And that process is audited by our major donors, with the United States and the European Union who are the biggest suporters of Israel on the international stage.
Following is the currently updated chart, compiled by UN Watch based on United Nations data, of all UN Human Rights Council resolutions that condemn specific countries, from its creation in 2006 until today. Our analysis does not count the majority of resolutions that praise countries or merely address “technical” issues.
GENEVA, July 22, 2015 – The resignation of a top UN rights official who admitted she did nothing after receiving reports of child rape by French soldiers in Central African Republic — because she was “distracted” by budget cuts — underscores the dire need for greater accountability at the world body, said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental Geneva watchdog agency that measures the performance of the world body by the yardstick of its own charter.
“Not only did Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri fail to act,” said Neuer, “but she was part of a coterie of top UN officials who punished the only member of her office who sounded the alarm, veteran staffer Anders Kompass, by firing him.” Continue reading ‘UN rights official who ignored African child rape by French troops resigns; UN Watch reacts’
GENEVA, July 20, 2015 - A majority of countries and nearly all of the democracies on the 54-nation ECOSOC refused to support the NGO application of the “Palestinian Return Center” amid evidence of the group’s entanglement with the Hamas terrorist organization, yet a plurality of only 16 countries, including dictatorships like China, Sudan and Zimbabwe, managed to successfully propel the PRC’s application forward.
Leading democracies were among the 13 who voted to reject the PRC’s bid, including the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Greece, Austria, and Finland. Others opposing the alleged Hamas front group included Albania, Botswana, Croatia, and Estonia. Another 18 countries abstained.
UN Watch revealed today that the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), a Hamas-linked group vying to win UN status today, celebrated the Hamas kidnapping of three Israeli teens, cheered Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, and threatened “punishment” for PLO President and Hamas rival Mahmoud Abbas.
Tweets from the official account of Tarek Hamoud, executive director of the London-based PRC, include:
1. PRC Cheers Hamas Kidnapping of Israeli Teens
[UPDATE: PRC chief Tarek Hamoud has just deleted this tweet today after this blog post was published. Screen capture of the tweet, however, is at the top.]
Above: On July 14, 2014, two days after the Hamas kidnapping of three Israeli teens, PRC posted this symbol of three fingers to cheer the abduction of the boys who were later discovered to have been murdered.
A group that celebrates kidnappings violates the peace and human rights principles of the UN Charter and should not be granted NGO status.
2. PRC Threatens PLO President Abbas with “Punishment”
[UPDATE: PRC chief Tarek Hamoud also deleted the above tweet today after this blog post was published. Our screen capture of his tweet, however, is above.]
Above: PRC chief Tarek Hamoud threatens PLO President Mahmoud Abbas (featured on right next to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu) with “punishment.” The translation reads:
Grim, humiliated faces agreeing to hate #Gaza and fight it. The faces are different but the crime is one, and the punishment will be the same
UPDATE: PRC chair Majed Al-Zeer has just deleted his Facebook post below, after this blog was published. We screen-captured it.
Above: Antisemitic image posted here on Facebook by Majed Al-Zeer,Chairman of the Hamas-linked Palestinian Return Centre
GENEVA, July 20, 2015 – Regarding a controversial vote scheduled this afternoon at UN headquarters in New York, UN Watch called on the world body’s 54-nation Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to reject the Sudan-sponsored decision by a subsidiary committee to recommend NGO status for a group intimately linked to the Hamas terrorist organization.
The vote today will approve or overturn the June 2nd decision by the 19-nation Committee on NGOs which voted in favor of the application by the Palestinian Return Centre, a Hamas affiliate in Europe, by a vote of 12 to 3.
Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union, Canada, Israel, Japan, and the United States, and, its armed wing is designated a terrorist organization by Australia and the United Kingdom.
Condemnatory Country-Specific Resolutions:
The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic (A/HRC/29/L.4)
Sponsors: France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UK, USA
Vote result: 29 in favour (EU, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA), 6 against (Algeria, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela), 12 abstentions (India, Pakistan, South Africa)
Situation of human rights in Belarus (A/HRC/29/L.12)
Sponsors: Latvia on behalf of the European Union
Vote result: 21 in favour (EU, Brazil, USA), 8 against (China, Cuba, India, Russia, Venezuela), 18 abstentions (Qatar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, UAE)
Situation of human rights in Eritrea (A/HRC/29/L.23)
Sponsors: Djibouti, Somalia
Adopted without a vote
Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/HRC/29/L.35)
Sponsors: Pakistan on behalf of the OIC
Vote result: 41 in favour (EU, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, UAE, Venezuela), 1 against (USA), 5 abstentions (Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Paraguay, Macedonia)
Continue reading ‘Resolutions and Voting Results of 29th HRC Session’
Lt. Col. Corn, law professor & former senior law of war adviser for U.S. army, addresses UN Human Rights Council on the report of the Gaza inquiry. Geneva, June 29, 2015.
Thank you, Mr. President. I am Geoffrey Corn, a Professor of Law and the U.S. Army’s former senior expert on the Law of Armed Conflict. I advised an independent JINSA-commissioned Task Force on the 2014 Gaza conflict.
I commend the Report’s recognition that all parties to armed conflict must implement and respect the Law of Armed Conflict. While objective critiques of military operations can contribute substantially to the understanding, implementation, and evolution of theLaw of Armed Conflict, findings and recommendations must derive from credible information, legal interpretation, and operational expertise. Otherwise, any critique risks distorting the essential balance between mitigating the suffering of armed conflict and the dictates of military necessity – one that has defined the law since its inception. Continue reading ‘Legal Expert: UN’s Gaza report “not based on credible military operational expertise”’
Major-General Michael D. Jones, former Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command, addressed the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of UN Watch, in the debate on the Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza conflict. Geneva, June 29, 2015.
My name is Mike Jones, a retired U.S. Army general officer who, with four other retired U.S. generals, conducted a JINSA-sponsored, but independent, study of the 2014 Gaza conflict. We conducted research, and interviewed Israeli, UN, and Palestinian Authority officials. Our focus was what the U.S. should learn from the conflict, but our report is relevant to the Council.
I am pleased your report acknowledged that all combatants are required to abide by the law, and that Hamas’ and other groups’ indiscriminate rocket fire at Israel was unlawful.
However, it is disappointing that the report fails to condemn these groups for unlawfully failing to distinguish themselves as combatants, as well as purposefully co-locating amongst civilians, knowingly placing them at risk, with absolutely no military necessity to do so.
I am also disappointed that the report, while acknowledging that lawful targeting is a balance between the military necessity and the known risk to civilians, came to conclusions without sufficient information to make a judgment. Specifically, they condemn the IDF for engagements without any information on the IDF’s objectives, military necessity, or known information on risk. Continue reading ‘U.S. General Blasts Gaza Report in UNHRC Testimony’
Address of Colonel Richard Kemp to the United Nations Human Rights Council, debate on report of the Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza conflict, Geneva, 29 June 2015.
Mr. President, I fought in combat zones around the world during 30 years’ service in the British Army. I was present as an observer throughout the conflict in Gaza.
Mr. President, during the 2014 Gaza conflict, Hamas, to its eternal shame, did more to deliberately and systematically inflict death, suffering and destruction on its own civilian population, including its children, than any other terrorist group in history. Continue reading ‘Col. Kemp tells UNHRC it’s become “tool of Hamas’ murderous strategy”’
By Hillel Neuer
Now in its 29th session, we are asked by many to believe that the UN Human Rights Council is a serious, effective and credible body.
Leaked Saudi cables, however, document what we knew all along: that despite the UNHRC’s official membership criteria — “the candidates’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto” — dictatorships strike backroom deals to elect each other onto the 47-nation body, in Kofi Annan’s words, “not to strengthen human rights but to protect themselves against criticism or to criticize others.”
Amid the trove of Saudi diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks are at least a dozen that explain how the Saudis bought their seat with money, and by bartering their UN votes. Continue reading ‘Leaked cables: Saudi Arabia & Russia traded votes for UNHRC seats’
I am often told in this chamber, in our debates, that I should not be “naming and shaming” member states. Somehow the naming is, or has become, the very shame itself. This is a disfigurement of the truth, which we must now reset.
The shame comes not from the naming: it comes from the actions themselves, the conduct or violations, alleged with supporting evidence or proven. The greatest factory of shame is the blanket denial of human rights. The denial of the right to life shames unreservedly. Killing on a massive scale, shames stunningly, and inexhaustibly. The denial of the right to development also shames. The denial of human dignity shames. Torture shames. Arbitrary arrests shame. Rape shames.
We name; the shame of States, where it exists, has already been self-inflicted. The loss of face for the affected countries has come well before OHCHR raises its independent voice. We say what we believe to be the truth, on behalf of victims. We have no monopoly over truth, but we believe our contentions can be supported by fact.
— UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, statement to UNHRC, June 15, 2015
Testimony today by UN Watch Executive Director before the 29th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Thank you, Mr. President. The High Commissioner spoke of the need to end impunity. Yet what we are witnessing here at the United Nations is this: Countries that commit gross and systematic violations of human rights are not only given immunity, but they are actually rewarded with high positions.
When member states are silent, the High Commissioner must lead. We urge him to consider, and we ask:
Why is it that Saudi Arabia, which subjugates women, which just expelled a student from university because she lowered her veil on a female-only schoolbus, is rewarded by the UN with a seat on this Human Rights Council? Continue reading ‘Hillel Neuer tells UN: “Why did you reward Iran & Saudi Arabia with top posts?”’
Key preliminary findings on the 2014 Gaza Conflict by a high level international military group as submitted to the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry, which is expected to issue its report next week.
HIGH LEVEL INTERNATIONAL MILITARY GROUP
THE GAZA CONFLICT IN 2014
From 18th – 22nd May 2015, the High Level International Military Group, made up of 11 former chiefs of staff, generals, senior officers, political leaders and officials from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Holland, Spain, Italy, Australia and Colombia visited Israel for a fact-finding mission on the 2014 Gaza conflict. We were led by General Klaus Naumann, former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, the most senior officer in the Alliance, and Giulio Terzi, former Foreign Minister of Italy. Also in the group were Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper, formerly US State Department Ambassador at Large for war crimes issues; and Mr Rafael Bardaji, former National Security Adviser to the Government of Spain.
This was part of a longer term project by our group, whose principal concern is how civilian lives can be protected and military forces can fight effectively when operations must be conducted in a densely packed civilian area. We will be producing a full report this autumn.
Above: Antisemitic image posted on Facebook by Majed Al-Zeer,
Director-General of the Hamas-linked Palestinian Return Centre
GENEVA, June 2, 2015 – UN Watch announced that it will contest yesterday’s “incomprehensible” decision by a UN committee to recommend NGO status for a group intimately linked to the Hamas terrorist organization, by appealing for it to be overturned by the 54-nation ECOSOC when it meets in July to consider the application.
At UN headquarters in New York yesterday, the 19-nation Committee on NGOs yesterday voted in favor of the application by the Palestinian Return Centre, a Hamas affiliate in Europe, by a vote of 12 to 3.
Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union, Canada, Israel, Japan, and the United States, and, its armed wing is designated a terrorist organization by Australia and the United Kingdom.
GENEVA, May 28, 2015 – Former U.S. president Bill Clinton is today addressing ECOSOC, a top 54-nation UN body, on the same day that its Committee on NGOs is set to grant official UN status to a Hamas front group.
UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer urged Mr. Clinton to speak out against the application by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), which has documented ties with a U.S.-designated terrorist entity. See full details in today’s UN Watch press release on the PRC.
Neuer also called on Mr. Clinton to condemn ECOSOC for “absurdly electing misognystic Iran last month to the Executive Board of UN Women.”
In addition, Neuer called on Clinton “to condemn ECOSOC for stacking its UN committee that oversees human rights groups with non-democracies including Iran, Sudan, China, Cuba, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan, and Venezuela.”
“These are the regimes that will today decide whether to grant coveted ECOSOC status to a front group of the Hamas terrorist organization. Mr. Clinton cannot allow himself to be seen as legitimizing the pernicious and anti-democratic actions of ECOSOC.”
By: Hillel C. Neuer
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.
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.
“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’
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’
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.
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.
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’
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.
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.
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?
Condemnatory Country-Specific Resolutions:
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’