Resources updated between Monday, April 08, 2013 and Sunday, April 14, 2013
April 12, 2013
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admits that "the Syrian Government had rejected his proposals on arrangements for a UN probe of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria." UN impotence in the face of the most serious of criminal acts - again.
President Obama has become one of the UN's major champions. Meeting with the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the Oval Office, the UN press release reads: "Both leaders praised each other..." Indeed, the meeting sounded like Barney's "I love you, you love me..." Except that Ban took the time to put pressuring Israel on his public list of priorities, along with Syria and North Korea. The President didn't disagree.
A controversial UN General Assembly meeting on "the international criminal justice system" - in the words of the Albanian representative - was designed by the Serbian UN General Assembly President Vuc Jeremic to be an exercise in "ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia] bashing." While various states objected and refused to take part in the sessions, many Muslim states took the opportunity to criticize the international criminal justice system - at least as it might be applied to them. In their case, national courts and cultural "sensitivities" came first. These same states are at the forefront of attempts to drag Israel before the ICC. For instance, Egypt said international criminal courts must "avoid politicization & selectivity." Sri Lanka said the "rule of law" means courts must adhere to "religio-cultural background & political sensitivities." Sudan - whose President is currently at large though indicted for genocide by the ICC - said the Court was picking on Africans and "out of step with justice." Iran said "Through internal justice systems, rule of law could better prevail in society." (Stoning is part of the Iranian "justice" system.) Last, but not least, came Syria - whose representative said "there was a need and obligation to extradite individuals who incited violence and promoted discord and strife" - not Assad of course, but the heads of governments of states funding mercenaries operating in Syria. ...The UN's idea of civilized discourse.
Christians dying in Egypt feeling abandoned.
A Message to President Obama and the United States Congress-Why Are You Silent? Human Rights Voices
April 11, 2013
Amnesty International held a press conference at UN Headquarters on its 2012 annual report on the use of the death penalty. When the senior Amnesty representative was asked about U.S. use of drones, she responded by analogizing the United States to China and North Korea. UN Press Release: "Ms. Brown acknowledged that the United States was trying to coat drone attacks with a "patina of legitimacy", but was equally "un-transparent" on that score and must equally be criticized in the same way as both China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for their lack of transparency."
Israeli Defense Forces are quietly providing humanitarian medical assistance to wounded Syrians on both sides of the border. So far the UN hasn't scheduled a meeting to denounce the Israeli "occupation." But news outlets doing their best to manufacture alarm.
Israel may be operating in Syria Article
Here is one more example of how Ethiopia treats journalists. As the U.S. State Department report on human rights practices states: "While the constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press, the government did not respect these rights in practice." But - Ethiopia is an elected member of the UN's top human rights body, the UN Human Rights Council.
Ethiopia threatens journalist with solitary confinement Human Rights Voices
A UN Press Release blasted Wednesday: "The recent restrictions on goods and people imposed by Israel...in Gaza are affecting thousands of families, the United Nations warned today." Later, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) admitted that "rocket fire from Gaza into Israel...breach[ed] the ceasefire agreement." But the UN response was to blame Israel for the travel restrictions subsequently imposed, and to tell Israel "to exercise maximum restraint." In other words, cause and effect are inverted: humanitarian consequences for Palestinians are not blamed on the terrorists who use them as human pawns, but on Israel for defending its own civilian population. It's just one more example of the harsh reality that for the UN, Israel has no tangible right of self-defense - only permanent restraint in the face of unprovoked attacks is acceptable.
A UN discussion of the "international criminal justice system" on Wednesday provided an opportunity for UN Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour to threaten Israel once again with International Criminal Court (ICC) proceedings. Mansour claimed he was concerned about Israel's "unaccountability" and "impunity," whereas "the Palestinian people and their leadership maintained a deep conviction in the primacy of international law." After sixty-five years of Arab efforts to deny and destroy a Jewish state, and rocket and other Palestinian attacks a daily constant, one shudders to think what a shallow conviction would look like.
April 10, 2013
UN confirms that there has been only one finding of retaliation on a whistlebower by the UN Ethics Office since it has existed - from August 2006.
The scene: press briefing for UN correspondents on Tuesday and a question about the UN investigation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. A UN headline the previous day had excitedly blared about an investigative team ready to go in 24 hours. Reporter Question: Why did the Secretary-General send the team to Cyprus before getting the clearance from Syria? Deputy UN Spokesperson: Because we are always preparing. Preparing, and more preparing.
Latest statement on UN 'investigation' of use of chemical weapons in Syria: "we have not heard officially from the Syrian Government, so I would wait to see what the Syrian Government has to say to the Secretary-General before commenting on the Secretary-General's response to what is happening, and to the Syrian Government's reasons for whatever decisions it is taking." Don't hold your breath.
According to UNICEF "the entire population of the Central African Republic, about 4.6 million people including over 2.3 million children, was directly affected by the conflict due to the collapse of services and law and order." An entire country erupts and the UN headlines are about Guantanamo and Israel.
UN refugee agency says lack of funding for Syrian refugees is due to their cheap and dishonest wealthy Arab brethren. Or to put it in UN-eze: "UNHCR was waiting for the materialisation of the bulk of the pledges made in Kuwait by the Gulf States (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates had each pledged $300 million for the humanitarian needs of refugees) and it was hoped these would arrive soon."
April 9, 2013
An American and former UN employee blew the whistle on worrisome conduct he witnessed when working for the UN office in Kosovo. For his trouble "his U.N. public utility watchdog office in Kosovo was shut down and his U.N. contract was not renewed." A UN Dispute Tribunal agreed with him on the merits, but awarded him only a small fraction of his actual financial losses. U.S. law requires "withhold[ing]15 percent of its contribution to any U.N. agency if the secretary of state determines it is not implementing "best practices for the protection of whistleblowers from retaliation."" But "a U.S. State Department official...told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the department does not believe any withholdings are required at this time." Whistleblower James Wasserstrom says: "The U.N. and Ban Ki-moon are not serious about transparency and accountability." He's right, and if the State Department is not prepared to follow through on withholding, the UN will have zero incentive to change.
The UN opened a session on forests and the Palestinian representative - as in all UN fora on anything at all - took the opportunity to talk about apartheid and Israel. Israel with 1.5 million free Arab citizens, and Jew-free "Palestine" notwithstanding. In a desperate attempt to relate the usual harangue to the subject matter, the Palestinian representative suggested that the Israeli "apartheid wall" leads to forest fires.
Hamas outlaws long hair, low-cut pants for young men in Gaza Human Rights Voices
The UN News Centre blasted around this headline: "Advance team for UN weapons probe ready within 24 hours to deploy to Syria, Ban says." The word "advance" was a bit of an oxymoron, however, since the suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria took place weeks ago. And reading the fine print, the UN Secretary-General continued: "Now all we are waiting for is the go-ahead from the Syrian Government for a thorough investigation to determine whether any chemical weapons were used in any location." Sounds like a plan???
For the 13th year in a row, UN diplomats sat around NY Headquarters on Monday denouncing terrorism albeit ships passing in the night since they don't mean the same thing when they use word 'terrorism.' The occasion was the start of a week-long session of the UN General Assembly "Ad Hoc Committee" charged with negotiating a comprehensive anti-terrorism convention. As usual, the UN press agency misleadingly reported: "They resoundingly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations." Except "all its forms" doesn't include what many states consider to be a list of acceptable targets starting with Israelis and Americans interfering with "self-determination." Here's a short lesson as to why there really is a clash of civilizations. The meeting included the following contributions. Egypt, speaking for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) "reiterated the need to make a distinction between terrorism, and the exercise of the legitimate right of peoples to resist foreign occupation." Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, was chosen to speak on the subject of terrorism for the 120 states of the non-aligned movement (NAM). Here's terrorism authority-figure Iran: "Terrorism was a flagrant violation of international law... It should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonial or alien domination for self-determination and national liberation." And by the way, he continued by "calling for respecting all human rights and freedoms in countering terrorism." Nicaragua: "it was essential for Member States to make a clear distinction between acts of terrorism and the legitimate right of people living under foreign occupation to self-defense." Cuba: "distinguish between terrorism and the legitimate struggle of peoples for self-determination." Malaysia: "It is important to distinguish between terrorism and the legitimate struggle of people under foreign occupation for liberation and self-determination." Syria: "It was essential to arrive at a clear definition of terrorism and to distinguish between terrorism and the fight against foreign occupation." Belarus: "A clear definition of terrorism would include the distinction between terrorism and the right of people to defend themselves against occupation and achieve self-determination." So to get concrete, for the majority of UN member states, Palestinian decapitation of three-month old "settler" Hadas Fogel in 2011 was not terrorism.
April 8, 2013
The UN is not complicated. Developing countries pay a tiny proportion of the bills, but have the numbers to do the spending. So imagine their horror, to learn that $1-a-day appointed representatives are getting travel and other perks. The first thing they do is complain about spending, and the second is to demand that "potential candidates be drawn from the widest possible geographical basis." In other words, they want a piece of the pie. All those movie stars may just have to start working for a respectable organization.
Starting today, a UN committee of all interested member states takes up - again - the issue of drafting a comprehensive convention against terrorism. The job was first assigned by the General Assembly over a decade ago. The stumbling block? In the words of the drafting committee coordinator: "Despite the substantial attention that had been paid to the issue of terrorism by the international community, agreement on what exactly constituted terrorism still did not exist..." Or as the coordinator has most recently described the position of the members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation: "...the need for a clear legal definition of terrorism, which distinguished terrorism from the legitimate struggle of peoples fighting in the exercise of their right to self-determination, had been emphasized. It had been further asserted that the draft convention could, if properly conceived, address elements such as the root causes of terrorism..." In other words, a decade after 9/11 the UN world still cannot define terrorism, because Islamic states believe that killing selected individuals in the name of self-determination is not terrorism. They don't name their victims at the UN, but no one doubts they mean Americans and Israelis or other Westerners that are deemed "legitimate" targets.
Naming human rights violators at the UN is a sad game given the countries that form the UN majority - as a newly-released UN report on sexual violence in conflict situations evidences. The detailed report is worried about simply naming specific countries as responsible for these heinous crimes. In the body of the report, crimes committed by government armed forces or grossly inadequate laws fueling the problem are identified. But when it came time to list the perpetrators in an annex, the report (a) limited itself only to the few "situations of armed conflict on the Security Council agenda" and (b) added: "It should be noted that the annex does not list countries as such. The purpose of the list is to identify particular parties to conflict that are credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence. In that regard, the names of countries are mentioned only in order to indicate the locations or situations where offending parties are committing the violations in question."
New report on sexual violence against women and girls in Syria today says "Survivors are very unlikely to seek support because of the risk of being targeted for an honour killing by their families, shame and the fear of facing a continued cycle of physical and sexual violence, divorce or abandonment by their husbands." What does this tell us about the prospects for "democracy" in Syria whoever "wins"?
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon assures the world on the day for commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, that the UN "works every day to learn the lessons of Rwanda and to prevent any recurrence of such horror. He has no doubt that "Suspected genocidaires and other would-be criminals around the world now know that they will be held accountable before the International Criminal Court, other international tribunals or domestic courts." Where's the Kool-Aid? Sudan's President Bashir has been indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and genocide and roams free. The UN General Assembly never held an emergency special session on Rwanda, and has had none on Syria.
Setting mass murder in Syria aside, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met on Friday in New York and had this to say: "Amid growing tensions, it was a "critical time" for Member States to put pressure on Israel..." Then there was a bunch of calls to Israel "to return to the negotiating table" - notwithstanding the fact that the only party boycotting negotiations are the Palestinians. Another day, another taxpayer dollar.