UN Watch urges High Commissioner Pillay to condemn pro-terror statements by Mona Seif
GENEVA, October 8, 2013 – UN rights chief Navi Pillay will headline a controversial Geneva ceremony today featuring a terrorism sympathizer as one three final nominees for what is billed as the world’s top human rights prize.
In a letter to High Commissioner Pillay, the non-governmental group UN Watch urged her to make clear that she condemns the repeated statements by nominee Mona Seif that opposed calls by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch for Hamas to stop rocket attacks on civilians, which she justified as “resistance.”
Despite serious questions about her record, Navi Pillay was today given the longest term of any UN rights chief in history when the UN General Assembly unanimously decided to extend her 4-year term, set to expire at the end of August, by another two years.
UN Watch is among more than 38 human rights groups that have questioned Pillay’s record in taking on the most powerful blocs and repressive regimes.
Soft on China: When jailed human rights hero Liu Xiaobo was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, Pillay gave in to Chinese pressure and declined an invitation to attend the Oslo ceremony, falsely claiming that she needed to be at a low-level Geneva event — one to which she didn’t bother to show in other years. Then she added to the dissembling by saying she was never invited. Continue reading ‘GA renews UN rights chief who was wrong on China, Iran and Israel’
GENEVA, May 14, 2012 — After Ban Ki-moon’s announcement today that he supports a two-year extension for rights commissioner Navi Pillay, a non-governmental watchdog group says that the decision was made — pending the UNGA’s rubber stamp — without due public consultation or a healthy discussion of her four-year record on the job.
The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution this morning that details the program and speakers for its September 22, 2011 summit of world leaders, known as “Durban III,” to commemorate the controversial 2001 Durban Declaration. Notable elements include:
Speakers at the high-level meeting will include UN chief Ban Ki-moon and top rights official Navi Pillay, who recently admitted to being “naive” in having downplayed fears in 2009 that the Durban II conference would be manipulated for political ends by Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Also speaking will be South African President Jacob Zuma.
The date has changed. The event was previously set for Sept. 21, a day after the opening of the UNGA General Debate. But the latter was moved a day later, and so Durban III followed.
The two round-table sessions, co-chaired by two heads of state, will be webcast. This was inserted by the G-77 bloc of developing states to boost the status of the event.
Selected NGOs will be invited. One hopes that GONGOs will this time be excluded. The Gadhafi-created group “North-South 21” — a Libyan-funded propaganda vehicle that masquerades as a NGO but which in fact manages the Moammar Gadhafi Human Rights Prize — was a leading player in politicizing Durban I and Durban II.
Six months after Canada announced its non-participation, the U.S. recently said it would also keep away from the September event.
In an exhaustive study, UN Watch examined all statements by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay published on the UN website between September 2008 and June 2010. Our findings show a questionable sense of priorities:
Ms. Pillay turned a blind eye to most of the world’s worst abusers. She made no statement on the human rights situations of 146 countries. She failed to voice any concern for victims in 34 countries rated “Not Free” by Freedom House—meaning those with the worst records, and the most needy victims. She failed to criticize another 50 countries rated “partly free” and 63 countries rated “free.” Among the countries not criticized: Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Brunei, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo (Brazzaville), Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mauritania, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
There were 21 statements on countries in the Middle East and North Africa. However, of these, 9 were on Israel, the only democracy in the region.
Ms. Pillay failed to issue any public statement in response to the well-documented violence against demonstrators in Iran following the June 2009 presidential elections. Her first comment appeared three months after initial reports and video evidence of government-backed paramilitary forces arbitrarily arresting, beating and killing protestors were released. Moreover, her call on the Iranian government to “release those detained for peaceful protest, to investigate reports of their ill-treatment, and to ensure respect for human rights” was made only as part of her traditional opening speech at the UN Human Rights Council session in September 2009. She did not give a press conference and chose not to issue a dedicated statement on the matter.
In an “unprecedented effort to engage” with the Arab countries, Pillay made a 10-day tour of the six Arab countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) from April 17, 2010 to April 26, 2010. Public statements during or in reference to this tour were largely positive and benign. While the High Commissioner did raise some human rights concerns, the discussion of human rights situations in those countries was largely muted. In instances when Pillay raised a human rights concern, she favored praising the country’s progress over naming recorded abuses or highlighting ongoing violations.
During this period, the Syrian government continued to repress minorities and restrict freedom of expression and assembly despite promises of greater transparency by President Bashar al-Assad. In July 2010, the military trials of two renowned human rights lawyers, Haytham al-Maleh and Muhanad al-Hasani resulted in sentenced convictions for criticizing the Syrian authorities on human rights grounds. In March 2010, Syrian military stormed the home of and detained Kurdish leader Abdel Hafez Abdel, and detained journalists, bloggers and writers for exposing government abuse and corruption. However, the High Commissioner did not respond to any of these events, and over the course of her tenure, did not make any public comments about the state of human rights in Syria.
U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay, along with Christof Heyns, the U.N. expert on extrajudicial executions, and Martin Scheinin, the U.N. expert on human rights and counter-terrorism have questioned the U.S. take-down of Osama bin Laden, demanding the United States provide information so the UN can examine whether the operation complied with “international human rights law standards.”
In response, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch said they should “get real… It’s unbelievable to me that these people can be such jerks.”
Senator Hatch said the U.S. Navy SEALS put their lives on the line to defend Americans by eliminating the world’s top terrorist, and the world should be grateful.
UN Watch Statement Interactive Dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Delivered by Hillel Neuer, March 3, 2011
Madame High Commissioner, we thank you for your report, and applaud its emphasis on the core principle of accountability. We commend your recent leadership on human rights in Libya. As you stated, “the people of Libya had long been victims of the serious excesses of the Libyan leadership.”
In this regard, given that accountability begins at home, we wish to ask whether your office has begun to reflect upon how, in recent years, the United Nations and its human rights system could have shown greater solidarity with Libya’s victims. We offer five specific questions:
1. Given that your responsibility is to mainstream human rights throughout the U.N. system, we ask: When the Qaddafi regime was chosen to serve on the Security Council for 2008 and 2009; when its representative was chosen as President of the General Assembly in 2009; when Col. Qaddafi’s daughter Ayesha was designated in 2009 a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador — why did you not speak out?
2. According to a study of all your published statements from September 2008 through June 2010, you never once mentioned human rights in Libya. Why?
3. Your report refers to your office’s strong support for the Durban process, for which you served as Secretary-General of its 2009 World Conference on Racism. When a representative of the Libyan regime was chosen to chair that conference’s two-year planning committee, and to chair the main committee, why did you not speak out?
4. When the Qaddafi regime was elected as a member of this council last year, why did you not speak out?
5. Your report refers to the council’s Advisory Committee. In 2008, ignoring the appeal of UN Watch and 25 human rights groups, the council elected the co-founder of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize—a propaganda tool for the regime—to this body. Last year he was made the committee’s vice-president. Why did you not speak out?
And will you now call on the recipients of this prize—former Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1998, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2004, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in 2009, and Turkish PM Erdogan in 2010—to renounce this prize, and to apologize to all the human rights victims—past and present—of Col. Muammar Qaddafi?