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Resources updated between Monday, November 16, 2009 and Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

This article appeared in The Wall Street Journal November 20, 2009.

As part of our public-service reports on the workings of your favorite world body, allow us to introduce you to Anne Bayefsky. The Toronto native is an expert on human-rights law and an accredited United Nations observer. She is also a friend of Israel, which makes her persona non grata as far as the folks at Turtle Bay are concerned.

Ms. Bayefsky's sin was a two-minute talk she delivered at the U.N. earlier this month after the General Assembly had issued a resolution endorsing the Goldstone Report, which levels war crimes charges at Israel for defending itself in the face of Hamas's rockets. "The resolution doesn't mention the word Hamas," she said. "This is a resolution that purports to be even-handed; it is anything but."

Ms. Bayefsky's comments were the only note of criticism on a day otherwise marked by much U.N. jubilation. Whereupon she was summarily stripped of her U.N. badge and evicted from the premises. "The Palestinian ambassador is very upset by your statement," Ms. Bayefsky says the U.N. security chief told her. Journalist Matthew Russell Lee tells us that he heard the ambassador asking whether U.N. security had "captured" Ms. Bayefsky.

For the record, the U.N. claims that Ms. Bayefsky violated procedures by bringing a colleague who lacked a proper badge, and that she was not entitled to speak where she did, though representatives of nongovernment organizations have used it in the past. And when we called the Palestinian Mission to get their side of the story, they told us the fracas was the last of their worries. Maybe so.

Yet the U.N. continues to bar Ms. Bayefsky from the premises, despite calls on her behalf by the U.S. mission and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. Best-case scenario, one U.N. insider tells us, is that "they'll put her on probation." We hear the U.N.'s NGO accreditation committee, chaired by Sudan, will likely make the final decision.

Meanwhile, a committee of the General Assembly recently passed a resolution on the so-called defamation of religion. "Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference, and has the right to freedom of expression, the exercise of which carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations," it says.

"Without interference" yet "subject to limitations." Orwell should be living now.

******

Leading U.N. Critic Sees Political Agenda Behind U.N.'s Decision to Bar Her

This article appeared in CNS News November 20, 2009, Patrick Goodenough

After being denied access to United Nations headquarters for two weeks, one of U.N.'s most forthright critics will find out Friday if her confiscated entry pass will be returned to her – and under what conditions.

Human rights law expert Anne Bayefsky said she was told on Thursday to report to a security official on Friday to "sign something" in order to get her pass back temporarily.

It's not clear what Bayefsky would be expected to sign. Meanwhile, a final decision on her longer-term access will be in the hands of a 19-member NGO-accreditation committee whose members include Sudan, Cuba, Pakistan, Egypt, Russia and China – countries whose conduct at the U.N. Bayefsky frequently criticizes.

U.N. security guards removed Bayefsky's pass and escorted her from the building on November 5 after she used a media stakeout microphone to condemn a General Assembly resolution endorsing the controversial "Goldstone report," which accuses Israel of war crimes in Gaza.

Bayefsky, director of the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust at Touro College, a Jewish-sponsored independent institution in New York, and editor of the Hudson Institute's Eye on the U.N. project, called the resolution "a travesty."

Moments later, she recounted by phone from New York Thursday, she was "surrounded by four or five guards," asked to identify herself – which she did – and told that she was not supposed to use the microphone.

She and an assistant were then accompanied to the security office, where the head security guard told her that Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour, who had spoken at the stakeout shortly before her, was "very upset" about her remarks.

Bayefsky said she also was challenged about the fact that her assistant did not have an entry pass – he was visiting from out of town and she swiped him in using her own pass – but she called that a "secondary issue," saying the comments she made at the microphone were obviously the main problem.

Bayefsky said she conceded to the guards that she should have gotten her assistant a pass and told them that when he returns to New York, she would do so.

"That would have been the end of it if it wasn't for the fact that the Palestinian ambassador had conveyed to security that he had been upset by my remarks."

The two were then escorted from the building.

In subsequent attempts to get her entry pass back, Bayefsky said she was told to come in and write a statement, after which it would be returned to her. But when she insisted on including in the statement the comment relayed to her about the Palestinian ambassador, officials refused to accept it and the pass was not returned.

At the same time, U.N. spokespersons stoked confusion by denying that that Bayefsky's accreditation had been revoked. At a press briefing Wednesday, spokesman Farhan Haq said that as far as he was aware, she was free to pick up her pass.

Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour speaks to reporters outside the General Assembly after the resolution endorsing the Goldstone report was passed on November 5, 2009. He is speaking at the same microphone Anne Bayefsky used minutes later. (UN Photo by Paulo Filgueiras) But at Thursday's briefing Haq's colleague, Michele Montas, issued a statement of "clarification," saying that Bayefsky was under a security investigation for having used her building pass "in an unauthorized manner" to bring in her assistant.

The result of the inquiry would be passed to the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for a final determination, she said.

Montas said the "breaches of security protocol" – not the use of the microphone – was the basis for the suspension of the pass.

Regarding Bayefsky's use of the microphone, she added that it was U.N. policy that speakers at stakeouts must be introduced by or accompanied by representatives of the U.N. or a member state. Unless so accompanied, she said, "an NGO [representative] cannot step up to the microphone and just make a statement."

Bayefsky said by phone later in the day that she and other NGO members have used stakeout microphones in the past without any difficulties being raised. Responding to Montas' statement about the need to be accompanied she said, "that's just not true – or at least it's not enforced, with respect to anybody but me."

'On the radar screen'

Bayefsky said she had no doubt her pass had been withheld because of her criticism of the U.N.

"This was political from the get-go," she said. "I was obviously on their radar screen."

Bayefsky's U.N. Watch monitors the world body's activities in New York and at its Human Rights Council in Geneva, with a particular focus on its treatment of Israel.

Presenting statements during NGO segments of meetings, she has been responsible for some of the most hard-hitting criticism heard in U.N. forums.

When the Human Rights Council considered the Goldstone report in late September, Bayefsky was scolded by the council president for a direct and personal challenge to Richard Goldstone, the South African judge who led the U.N.-mandated fact finding mission behind the report.

"How does it feel to have used your Jewishness to jeopardize the safety and security of the people of Israel, and to find yourself in the company of human rights abusers everywhere?" she asked him.

In an earlier visit to Geneva, Bayefsky caused a stir during the "Durban II" racism conference, a week-long event attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and boycotted by the U.S., Israel and a handful of other Western countries.

Ahmadinejad sparked a walkout during a speech in which he called Israel the "most cruel and repressive racist regime," described the Holocaust as a "pretext" for Israel's establishment in 1948, and said the 2003 invasion of Iraq was "planned by the Zionists and their allies in the then U.S. administration."

During an NGO segment later, Bayefsky berated the U.N. for giving the Iranian "a global megaphone" and said it had also " translated his hate speech into six languages and broadcast it around the world."

Interrupted several times by a protesting Iranian delegate, she accused the U.N. of enabling anti-Semitism, criticized "all those states without the courage to reject a forum for bigotry when it masquerades as human rights," and concluded that the Durban II conference deserved to end up in "the dustbin of history."

By comparison, her impromptu Nov. 5 comments at the stakeout microphone were relatively mild.

She noted that the resolution passed by the General Assembly that day endorsing the Goldstone report made not mention of Hamas – the Palestinian group whose thousands of rocket attacks from Gaza were Israel's stated reason for its military offensive last winter.

"This is a resolution that purports to be evenhanded," she said. "It calls for accountability and in fact what we see instead is impunity for the Palestinian side."

'West gets outvoted'

The body that will decide whether Bayefsky will be able to retain access to U.N. meetings is an ECOSOC committee overseeing accreditation of non-governmental organizations, more than 3,000 of which have "consultative status" at the U.N.

This year the committee has been chaired by Sudan, and two of its four vice-chairmen are Cuba and Pakistan.

The committee has been accused in the past of political decision-making. In a vote last summer it rejected the accreditation application of a Christian NGO because it refused to produce names and addresses of its members in China, citing religious freedom concerns.

China led the move to shut out the Christian organization and the U.S. was one of just four committee members to vote in support of the group (the others were Britain, Romania and Israel.) The U.S. delegate said that by taking the decision to exclude the NGO, "we are embarrassing ourselves and embarrassing the United Nations."

The committee's members are Angola, Britain, Burundi, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Egypt, Guinea, India, Israel, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Sudan, Turkey and the United States.

"The United States and other Western governments never prevail at that committee," Bayefsky commented Thursday. "They get outvoted ... that's why some Western democratic NGOs never get NGO accreditation."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"The United Nations detained an outspoken critic and booted her from its New York headquarters in what the woman, a human rights watchdog, is calling an effort to silence her opposition to the world body."

This article appears today on FoxNews.com.

Anne Bayefsky claims that as retaliation for giving a two-minute impromptu speech defending Israel, her 25-year career of monitoring the U.N. is now in jeopardy - likely to be placed in the hands of a committee chaired by the genocidal regime in Sudan.

Bayefsky gets special access to U.N. meetings in her capacity as the director of a non-governmental organization, the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust at New York's Touro College.

But the longtime U.N. observer has found herself in what she calls a "Kafkaesque" gray zone, where the U.N. confiscated her credentials, then denied to reporters that her access had been blocked.

"This is no accident," she told FoxNews.com, arguing that she is being denied access to vital meetings concerning her prime focus: defending Israel. "This is keeping [the U.N.'s] major critic absent during the heart of the year."

Following a vote Nov. 5 at the U.N. General Assembly, a microphone was set up outside the UNGA chamber for delegates to tout their endorsement of the controversial Goldstone Report, which accuses Israel of committing war crimes during its invasion of Gaza last winter.

Without an invitation, Bayefsky approached the empty podium to offer what she thought would be a counter-balance to speeches from the Libyan president of the UNGA and the Palestinian observer, who both supported the resolution.

"I didn't expect that there would be a problem at all," said Bayefsky, who noted that she and other NGOs have spoken there in the past without incident. (Archived U.N. video shows an official from the NGO Human Rights Watch speaking in praise of the U.N. at the same podium in May 2007.)

Bayefsky blasted the Goldstone Report and called the U.N. a "laughingstock" for singling out Israel and ignoring human rights violations committed by the terrorist organization Hamas against Israeli and Palestinian civilians during the three-week campaign in December and January.

"This is a resolution that purports to be evenhanded; it is anything but," she said of the document approved by the UNGA. "It is a travesty - it calls for accountability, and in fact what we see instead is impunity for the Palestinian side."

Soon after she finished speaking, Bayefsky was swarmed by four U.N. security guards, who brought her to their security office, confiscated her NGO pass and kicked her out of the building, she said.

But the U.N. told reporters a different story at a press conference Tuesday - claiming that there has been no change in status for Bayefsky, even as she continues to sit in limbo.

"The credentials of her organization are not changed at this stage," said Farhan Haq, spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "It's possible in the future that there could be a review, but at this stage there's been no removal of credentials from that NGO or from Ms. Bayefsky."

U.N. security officials became angered with Bayefsky after they realized she had brought an assistant to the U.N. proceedings without getting him a personal pass - a breach of protocol that led to a full-fledged investigation by the security office.

But Bayefsky says that the content of her speech is what rubbed U.N. officials the wrong way. She says supporters of the Goldstone report "are going to do everything in their power to silence anyone who gets in their way."

Following her speech, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, was informed that a pro-Israel NGO had spoken after him, and reportedly asked a member of the press, "Did we capture them?"

Later, as she pleaded her case before being forcibly removed from the General Assembly building, a security official told Bayefsky that "the Palestinian ambassador is very upset at the statement you made," she told FoxNews.com.

U.N. officials denied that politics had anything to do with their handling of Bayefsky, and said it was purely an issue of protocol.

"She came to the microphone unannounced, unauthorized and unwarranted. It's so simple," said Jean-Victor Nkolo, a spokesman for the president of the General Assembly. "It's nothing personal against Ms. Bayefsky at all. But it's just that this cannot be allowed."

Though her speech was broadcast live online, the footage was removed from the main proceedings made available by the U.N. on its Web site. Video of Bayefsky's two-minute talk, which first streamed live, has been posted online on YouTube.

"This was broadcast live. These are very serious matters," said Nkolo. "We are trying in this building to work toward peace in a very serious manner."

Bayefsky is now waiting for the U.N. to return her credentials or to refer her case to the Committee on NGOs, which will meet during January and February and could decide whether to renew her NGO pass - a prospect that has her deeply worried.

"The chances of my getting through that committee are basically nil," she said.

The nation that chairs the committee, Sudan, is currently engaged in a murderous war on its own citizens and expelled 13 major aid NGOs from the country in March - meaning that a human rights violator that rejects NGOs within its own borders will be overseeing the approval of NGOs at the U.N.

Asked about this apparent inconsistency, a spokeswoman for the U.N. body overseeing the NGO committee said in an e-mail that "the Departments concerned are investigating this matter on the basis of established practice, jurisprudence and thorough review of the facts."

That spokeswoman, Diane Loughran, noted that "The decision on whether to suspend or withdraw her organization from the UN would be up to the Committee on NGOs upon receipt of a formal complaint." But Loughran said she was not aware of any formal complaints filed with the committee.

In the meantime, Bayefsky has no pass and can't hope for a hearing until at least January or February, which means she could be barred from working at the U.N. for the next few months.

"The next three weeks are the heart of the entire year at the U.N. General Assembly. The frenzy of anti-Israel activity is going on right now," she said.

"There's a reason they're keeping me away - this is no accident."

November 18, 2009

November 17, 2009

November 16, 2009