Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki has asked Moscow’s ambassador to the PA to clarify why Russia initiated a successful motion at UNESCO last week to postpone a series of Arab-sponsored resolutions condemning Israel, reports the Ma’an news agency.
UN Watch welcomed the surprise turn of events and praised all the delegates who supported Russia’s proposal at an executive board meeting in Paris to postpone voting for six months — on five one-sided and politicized resolutions sponsored by Syria, Jordan and PA — which passed by 28 votes to 23. See full Haaretz story here.
Al-Malki told Ma’an he did not know why Russia suggested the delay but that he summoned the Russian ambassador to a meeting to explain the decision. He said the delay was “unfortunate” and would “allow Israel to continue its attacks on Palestinians.”
UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer called on UNESCO to put an end to its 40-year campaign to delegitimize Israel. Continue reading ‘PA summons Russia envoy over blocking of anti-Israel vote at UNESCO’
While scores have been killed just this month in Iran and China and human rights activists are murdered in Russia, a U.N. conference that commenced this morning has once again put the Geneva spotlight on Israel. As if the hearings of the Goldstone Gaza inquiry earlier this month were not already enough, not to mention last week’s video re-play of the Gaza hearings at the Palais des Nations, the annual International Conference on the Question of Palestine kicked off with a packed room. Delegates from all regions and countries large and small were present in their official capacity, sitting behind their country placards, including from Italy, Switzerland, the European Commission, Belgium, Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala, Bosnia, Serbia, Belarus, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Burundi, Monaco, and Cambodia to name just a few. Continue reading ‘“Question of Palestine” conference keeps U.N. focused on antagonizing Israel’
The U.N.’s continued silence on Iran is deafening. Yes, eventually we had a handful of statements by Ban Ki-moon and rights chief Navi Pillay, but the system as a whole — especially compared to how they treat certain other regions in the Mideast — has effectively ignored the men and women being beaten, brutalized and shot in the streets of Tehran.
The Security Council is silent; the Human Rights Council is silent; and no member state nor U.N. official has dared to call for an emergency session of either body. Why is the U.N. abandoning Iran’s hundreds and thousands of brutalized victims? Would the young woman Neda have been killed if the U.N. had put the Mullahs on notice, and expressed the world’s outrage? Continue reading ‘Why no U.N. emergency session on Iran’s killings of civilians? Ottolenghi on Cohen vs. Cohen…’
Jerry Okungu of Kenya, writing in New Vision, Uganda, was “miffed by the so-called African envoys at the United Nations Human Rights Council that purported to have spoken on behalf of the continent” in slamming Prof Alston’s report on abuses by the Kenyan government. Asks Okungu:
Wasn’t it embarrassing enough that the African Group at the United Nations Human Rights Council could taken a stand and condemn a UN Special Rapporteur for merely reporting that there were human rights abuses in Kenya? After watching news clips on that unfortunate story, many Kenyans were taken aback and asked where these so-called African Commissioners at the Council were when Kenyans were being slaughtered and gunned down by militias and the State Police…
This morning at the UN Human Rights Council, Morocco interrupted the session with false allegations against an NGO speaker. Before the representative of International Educational Development could even take the floor, the Moroccan delegate raised a point of order, questioning whether the speaker is entitled to testify on behalf of that NGO given that she had previously addressed the Council twice for another NGO, called France Liberte. Continue reading ‘Morocco Interrupts Rights Council With False Allegations Against NGO Speaker’
The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday held a panel on panels. “We now open our panel discussion on panels,” said the president, in what will perhaps rank as the most memorable quote of the current session. The U.N.’s official summary follows.
Continue reading ‘U.N. Holds Panel on Panels’
Over the last couple days at the UN Human Rights Council, abusive States praised one another’s rights records during the sessions to adopt reports on human rights violations in countries under review. This is not surprising considering that the same phenomenon was evident during the working groups for these Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reports, where rights-abusing countries played a tit for tat strategy of mutual praise, rather than undertaking genuine efforts to review and critique one another’s rights records. (Click here for UN Watch report, entitled “Mutual Praise Society,” detailing this trend). Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Repays Rights-Abusing Allies with Lavish Praise’
At the meeting to adopt the report on Cuban rights violations at the UN Human Rights Council today, of the ten slots allotted for NGO speeches, eight were awarded to GONGOs (“Government-backed NGOs,” i.e., front groups) that bestowed lavish praise on the Castro regime. Continue reading ‘Cuban GONGOs Dominate NGO Speaker’s List’
Below is a statement that UN Watch intended to deliver today at the U.N. Human Rights Council’s session to adopt the periodic report on Saudi Arabia’s rights record, but Continue reading ‘UN Watch Statement on Saudi Arabian Treatment of Women’
The U.N.’s human rights officers work hard at allowing NGOs to speak, but today the system failed. Theoretically, NGOs were to form a line outside the Human Rights Council chamber, to sign up to speak at tomorrow’s adoption of reports on the human rights situations in Cuba, Saudi Arabia and other countries. With only ten available slots for NGOs speeches on each country, queuing began at the early hours of the morning, though the sign-up only officially opened at 2:45 PM. Unfortunately, a series of mishaps raised serious questions about the fairness of the process in the eyes of several NGOs. Some claimed they had been told not to arrive at the U.N. before 8 AM (when NGOs are allowed to enter the building), yet reportedly found a line of GONGOs (“Government-backed NGOs,” i.e., front groups) already waiting by the desk long before. If Cuba’s GONGOs manage to take up the whole alloted time, the Castro regime will have blocked the voices of its victims. Continue reading ‘Cuban Front Groups Queue Up to Block Victim Voices’
The U.N. Human Rights Council convened this morning to discuss reports of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.
Algeria took the opportunity to attack her and the work of her office. While paying lip service to “respecting the independence” of both the High Commissioner and the Council, it said it is “time to address the relationship between the Council and the High Commissioner.” Continue reading ‘Algeria Attacks Rights Chief and Her Office’
At the U.N. Human Rights Council today, while various states and experts used the annual full day discussion of women’s human rights to raise critical topics of violence and discriminatory practices facing women, Cuba spent a substantial portion of its speech bashing the U.S. on an issue vaguely related to the subject of debate. Continue reading ‘Cuba Appeals to Feminist Movements to Demand the U.S. Release “Anti-Terrorist Fighters”’
Speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Council today, the Union of Arab Jurists complained that the “politicization of the international justice system leads to selectivity in courts to serve the interests of powerful states.” It cited two examples: 1. The U.N. international tribunal on the 2005 murder of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri, which has reportedly suggested the involvement of Syria and the Hezbollah terrorist organization in the killing, 2. The International Criminal Court, which has indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. Continue reading ‘Union of Arab Jurists Protests Sudan’s Bashir Indictment for Genocide’
The debate on free speech from yesterday continued today at the U.N. Human Rights Council. The controversy stems from the report by U.N. expert on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Mr. Franck La Rue Lewy, which emphasizes the importance of free speech while advocating minimal restrictions on incitement to hatred, which he said does not include “defamation of religions.” Continue reading ‘U.N. Free Speech Expert Resists Islamic States’ Call for Censorship’
Click here for the full U.N. Human Rights Council summary of the morning meeting May 27 of the Special Session on Sri Lanka.
Click here for previous blog posting on Algeria, Syria speeches: “Algeria, Syria allege ‘double standards’ in Sri Lanka session”
Highlights from U.N. summary:
Continue reading ‘Human Rights Council continues Special Session on situation of human rights in Sri Lanka’
At the U.N. Human Rights Council today, a special session was held to address the urgent situation in Sri Lanka. While the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU and other Western states pushed for a commission of inquiry to assess the human rights violations of both the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government, a number of countries and regional groups used the session to praise Sri Lanka and rail against the states who called for the session. Continue reading ‘Debate rages at Sri Lanka session’
Geneva, May 25, 2009 – Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch today expressed “serious disappointment” today over a “toothless” draft resolution on Sri Lanka submitted today by Switzerland and other Western states for tomorrow’s U.N. Human Rights Council emergency session. Continue reading ‘UN Watch slams “toothless” Swiss-EU draft U.N. resolution on Sri Lanka’
Sri Lanka is not waiting quietly to be scrutinized by Monday’s emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which was initiated by Western states to address the dire situation of that country’s civilians. Today the Sri Lankan government made a bid to pre-empt and subvert the process by introducing its own resolution — one that praises its actions. Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka preempts emergency U.N. session with self-congratulatory resolution’
Iranian president asks why he can’t deny the Holocaust
Source: Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Fars Provincial TV, Shiraz, in Persian 0803 gmt 29 Apr 09, translated by BBC Monitoring Middle East, April 29, 2009
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad has spoken about the recent UN anti-racism conference in Geneva, known as Durban II, saying that there were attempts by America and Israel to change an earlier approval equalling the Israeli government with “racism”.
Continue reading ‘Ahmadinejad: “Zionists are racists and racism must be uprooted in the world”’
While Iran and several Arab delgations used the Durban II conference to condemn Israel as the world’s foremost racist state, pro-Israel events held on the sidelines garnered media attention, reframing the historical record of this week’s happenings.
Speaking at the “Rally for Israel, Human Rights, and Peace,” a conference hosted by more than 30 Jewish and non-Jewish NGOs, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz delivered an impassioned speech defending Israel against unwarranted accusations and decrying the U.N.’s extreme anti-Israel bias.
Continue reading ‘Pro-Israel events reframe Durban II’
At Tuesday’s high level segment of the Durban Review Conference, Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Palestine and Cuba all highlighted “the plight of the Palestinian people” and condemned Israel as a “racist” state.
Continue reading ‘Day 2 at Durban II: Islamic States condemn Israel, “defamation of religions”’
Towards the close of Tuesday’s high-level segment at the Durban Review Conference, Sudan‘s Deputy Justice Minister, Abdel Daiem Zumrawi gave a fiery speech, denouncing the decision of the International Criminal Court to indict Sudan’s President al-Bashir for the genocide in Darfur.
“The accusation of the President does not relate to doing of justice or bringing of peace and stability,” he said. “We are of the opinion that the ICC is being employed as a racist instrument that goes after certain groups while overlooking others.”
Zumrawi then blamed this “absence of justice” for breeding “malice, terrorism and extremism.”
He went on to denounce “heinous crimes committed against the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation” and said, “the protection offered Israel by some Western countries” is the reason it continues to “act against humanity.”
Zumrawi also decried the “ongoing smearing campaign against the religion of Islam and its Prophet.”
Moreover, his speech attempted to portray Sudan as a country committed to human rights, claiming, for example, that Sudan’s constitution calls for the full representation of marginalized areas.
Click here for Iran‘s speech at the high-level segment of Durban II.
Click here for Norway‘s speech at the high-level segment of Durban II.
To access other speeches click here
(ID: HRC Durban, Password: OHCHR123)
For video of speeches, see the Durban II webcast here
Note: Some of the written submissions of speeches may have been edited during delivery. (For example, Iranian President Ahmedinejad toned down some of the Holocaust denial evident in the written submission of his speech, though according to an AP story, he still said ”the question of the Holocaust,” which was missed by the English simultaneous interpreter.)
Speaking at the high-level segment of the Durban Review Conference on Tuesday, Cuba said that “in the industrialized countries you see racism most developed” and compared racism to the “growing gap between the rich and the poor.” It also encouraged reparations for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, decried anti-terror legislation as a form of racism, and stressed its support for the Palestinian people and solidarity with the people of the third World. Referring to the countries that stayed away from Durban II, Cuba complained about the “artificial allegations of a small number of countries who chose to isolate themselves from our efforts.”
Speaking at the high-level segment of the Durban Review Conference today, Syrian Foreign Minister Dr. Faysal Mekdad said that the purpose of Durban II is to address “racism, discrimination, foreign occupation, and intolerance.” The actual stated goal of the conference is to review implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration against “racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.”
In raising “foreign occupation” as a key agenda item of the conference, Syria was attempting to draw attention to its political conflict with Israel over the Syrian Golan, and also to raise the Palestinian issue.
The minister went on to accuse Israel of perpetrating ethnic cleansing since 1948, Judea-ifing Israel, and threatening to “throw the Palestinians into the sea” (an interesting twist on the Hamas/Hezbollah call to throw the Jews into the sea). He decried Israel’s law granting the right of return and citizenship to Jews as discrimination.
Mekdad also claimed that Syria’s laws hold accountable and punish all acts of racism. He then deplored the “misrepresentation of religious symbols” and said that discrimination against Muslims has reached “unacceptable levels.”
Just moments before Iranian President Ahmadinejad was set to address the Durban Review Conference today, another gathering in the Palais des Nations challenged the U.N. for giving a forum– during a conference meant to address racism and intolerance– to a leader who violates the rights of his own people and incites genocide.
Speaking at a side even organized by UN Watch, Iranian dissident and former prisoner of conscience, Ahmad Batebi, argued that Ahmadinejad does not represent the Iranian people. The Iranian people do not want to wipe Israel off the map nor do they support terrorism, as does the Iranian government. He went on to cite various abuses of the State, noting that 112 students currently languish in Iranian prisons for protesting government policies.
Batebi said that just today he was threatened by a representative of the Islamic Republic, who told him he would be killed at the U.N.
Batebi was followed by Fakhteh Zamani, President of the Association for Defense of Azerbaijani political prisoners in Iran. She addressed the urgent plight of Iranian Azeris who face consistent, state-sanctioned persecution as an ethnic minority.
Canadian MP Irwin Cotler also addressed the gathering, describing Ahmadinejad as a man who incites genocide, stands in violation of the U.N. Charter, and represses his own people. It shames the cause of human rights and anti-racism for such a leader to be a welcome guest at the conference, he said.
Must-see video of the full confrontation with Libyan chair of Durban 2: The video
In a special appearance today at the UN Human Rights Council, Libyan Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdulssalam E. El tumi, said the following:
“The Palestinian people are still living under occupation and that’s for more than 60 years. The occupying force is practicing the worst kinds of violations of human rights, ignoring the principles of international law and international humanitarian law. It does not respect human rights at all. The destruction maneuvers and the killing attacks are ongoing and still fresh in our minds — the recent massacres of Gaza. The occupation war machinery has killed thousands of victims amongst the unarmed, the children, the elderly, the women. The entire world has witnessed the aggression and the scenes of horror and the pictures of infants dying without committing any sin or crime. The Human Rights Council must shoulder its responsibilities and act on ending these serious violations, forcing the occupying power to stop these practices and abide by international legitimacy. The occupation forces have persisted in ignoring all resolutions without any sanctions being taken against it. Refusing to comply to the resolutions of the international community confirms its disdain for the international law. Thus losing the conditions of admissibility in the membership of the United Nations. In this occasion we call on the Council to consider the suspension of the participation of the occupying power in the works of the council, which has devoted to the respect of international law. We also call on requesting a suspension of its participation in the United Nations and international organizations for the same reasons mentioned above.”
During a debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council today, Islamic countries complained that a report on religious freedom did not adequately attack Israel, while daring to criticize Islamic countries. The report was presented by U.N. expert on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Ms. Asma Jahangir of Pakistan.
Continue reading ‘Islamic states: Religious freedom report does not sufficiently attack Israel’