Resources updated between Monday, July 15, 2013 and Sunday, July 21, 2013
July 19, 2013
Another human rights voice falls on deaf ears at the UN. The Washington Post reports: "Russia's most effective anti-corruption campaigner and opposition leader was found guilty of embezzlement Thursday and sentenced to five years in prison in a verdict that sent shock waves throughout the country. The conviction of Alexei Navalny, 37, a leading critic of President Vladimir Putin with a penchant for exposés and cutting jibes, brought condemnation from those who view the case as politically driven. Opponents said it showed that Putin recognizes few bounds in his determination to crush challengers."
Russian Court Convicts Anti-Corruption Crusader Alexei Navalny Human Rights Voices
In the context of the ubiquitous campaign to cast Palestinians as perpetual victims of Israeli aggression, consider this recent report from the Israel Defense Forces on 'harmless' rock-throwers. "Last Thursday, a woman was driving past the city of Ariel with her three young daughters in the car. At the same time, a group of Palestinians threw rocks at a truck coming in the other direction. The truck veered off its lane, and collided with the family's car, causing moderate injuries to the mother and to the two older daughters. The youngest, a three-year-old child, was critically injured, and rushed to the nearest hospital. Doctors are working tirelessly to save her life. Rock throwing is common in Judea and Samaria, and along with Molotov Cocktail and booby-trapped tire throwing, is a terror act that comes under the definition of 'popular terror'. These incidents happen daily, and are easily ignored by the mainstream media, because they don't seem that serious. But did you know that a simple rock can kill?"
Rocks Can Kill Human Rights Voices
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has introduced "The United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2013," and the bill is now in the hands of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. It was co-sponsored by Republican Senators Cornyn and Risch. As Rubio rightly said in introducing the bill: "today it [the United Nations] is plagued by ineffective leadership, excessive bureaucracy, ethical abuses, misspending and transparency problems...By bringing greater accountability and budget transparency, the U.S. will be able to ensure that American taxpayer dollars going to the UN are actually advancing our national interest." But with a Democrat-controlled Senate, and a President who has embraced the UN as a key instrument of his foreign policy (to avoid leadership, to conduct end-runs around Congress, and to pressure Israel), Congressional watchers give the bill a "7% chance of getting past committee. 1% chance of being enacted." That's unfortunate. As Rubio rightly said in introducing the bill: "today it [the United Nations] is plagued by ineffective leadership, excessive bureaucracy, ethical abuses, misspending and transparency problems...By bringing greater accountability and budget transparency, the U.S. will be able to ensure that American taxpayer dollars going to the UN are actually advancing our national interest."
Here's some of what the bill would accomplish.
Budget transparency and accountability:
· Makes it U.S. policy to shift funding for the UN regular budget to voluntary contributions and includes a mandate to pursue zero nominal growth of the UN regular budget;
· Authorizes the creation of an Inspector General (IG) to investigate and audit the use of U.S. contributions to the UN.
· Requires an analysis that compares countries' voting patterns with amount of U.S. foreign aid received.
· Requires an annual OMB report on all U.S. contributions to the UN.
· Withholds U.S. contributions to any UN entity that grants full membership to the Palestinian Authority in the absence of a negotiated peace settlement with Israel.
· Withholds U.S. contributions to the UN system that would have been expended on activities related to the Goldstone Report.
· Withholds U.S. contributions to any UN activities related to the Durban Process, a forum for anti-Semitism.
· Denies U.S. funding to any UN entity that recognizes NGOs that condone anti-Semitism.
· Prohibits U.S. participation on the UN Human Rights Council in its present form
· Conditions U.S. funding to the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA on its implementing counterterrorism reforms, including adequate vetting of their personnel for terrorist connections.
July 18, 2013
President Obama's nomination for UN ambassador, Samantha Power, made it through a 'confirmation hearing lite' with few Senators bothering to ask her any tough questions. As Senator Rubio discovered when he pushed harder, the responses were duck, laugh, talk about kids/husband, and repeat "I love America." Apparently, that will be enough. In the meantime, her administration handlers concocted a story for the Israeli paper Haaretz explaining how terrific she is on Israel. As proof, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, Ben Rhodes and an anonymous "senior official," explained that she was the one signing off for the White House on Israel-related UN policy decisions and statements all along. Rhodes said: "Sam had been the point person at the White House on all issues related to Israel at the UN." "Samantha has been the White House official in contact with our team in the Human Rights Council..." Her products were said to include the U.S. decision to boycott the Durban II conference in 2009, the handling of the Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla crisis in May 2010, and "stopping" the unilateral Palestinian statehood initiative in the United Nations. So by the administration's own admission, Samantha Power is already responsible for the following. Power advocated joining the UN Human Rights Council and bestowing it with the human rights legitimacy that comes with U.S. membership, despite it being Israel-delegitimization headquarters. The administration refused to boycott Durban II until 48 hours before the conference and only after public pressure. The indecision ruined the ability of Israel and Jewish organizations to build a major coalition against the Durban Declaration. On the Turkish flotilla incident, the administration allowed the matter to blossom into a UN Security Council presidential statement with almost unheard of speed. Twenty-four hours after the event, the Council issued a statement which eventually subjected the Israeli defense forces to a UN-driven investigation – something the U.S. defense establishment would never have accepted. Turkish-Israel relations still suffer from the Turks having been encouraged to believe that they were wronged. And the Palestinians - now officially called at the UN "the state of Palestine" - upgraded their status to that of non-member observer state. Power is now out of the closet. At the UN, Israel is out of the frying pan - and into the fire.
July 17, 2013
Susan Rice chose to delude America once again, as she spoke to the press for the final time as President Obama's UN ambassador for the past four and a half years. As Iran nears the nuclear finish line, Rice said: "On issues as important as Iran...we have been able to find common ground." "The whole world is clear that Iran's violations are unacceptable." She also cast four years of unrelenting anti-Israel activity at the United Nations as a blip: "Once in a while, the inefficiencies...corruption...undermine the legitimacy of this institution."
Here's a snapshot of her actual record: (a) There has not been a binding Security Council sanctions resolution on Iran since June 2010. Despite Washington's numerous pleas, the Chinese reiterated this week that they were "not in favor of increased new pressure or sanctions against Iran." (b) The Palestinians ignored the President's personal appeal not to use the UN to upgrade their status unilaterally. With the U.S. voting against, "Palestine" became a UN non-member observer state. (c) Regardless of American views, UN jobs have been repeatedly filled by grossly inappropriate candidates. Iran is on the UN's top women's rights body. Both North Korea and Iran have served as President of the UN Conference on Disarmament. Richard Falk, the antisemitic, Boston-terror apologist, continues to hold the job of the UN's Israel "investigator." (d) The UN has made zero progress in agreeing to a definition of terrorism. The drafting of a comprehensive convention against terrorism is hopelessly deadlocked. (e) The UN held two more racist anti-racism conferences, "Durban II" in 2009 and "Durban III" in New York on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, over administration objections. (f) Every substantive U.S. proposal to reform the Israel-bashing UN Human Rights Council was thrown out by the General Assembly in June 2011. The U.S. was outnumbered 154 to 4. (g) In Syria, there are now over 100,000 deaths and yet UN investigators are waiting outside the country. (h) Humanitarian access to Sudan is still blocked, while the killing in Darfur goes on. Etc. Etc.
The GOP-controlled House is attempting to introduce limits on taxpayer dollars to the UN in light of the organization's serious shortfalls. The House Appropriations Committee released the Fiscal Year 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which includes funding for UN-related activities.
Among other things, the GOP-sponsored bill
· Limits funding if the U.S. government is not given full access to all audits of the UN.
· Denies funding for any UN specialized agency, body or commission within the UN system that is chaired by a country that supports international terrorism.
· Denies funding in support of the UN Human Rights Council "unless the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that participation in the Council is in the national security interest of the United States and that the Council is taking steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item: Provided, That such report shall include a justification for making the determination and a description of the steps taken to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item."
· Denies funding to the Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, unless "the Secretary of State determines and reports...that UNRWA is" – a among other things – "using curriculum materials in UNRWA-supported schools and summer camps designed to promote tolerance, non-violent conflict resolution, and human rights." A waiver here is allowed if "necessary to avert a humanitarian crisis."
· Denies additional funding "for the design, renovation, or construction of the United Nations Headquarters in New York."
Concerning Palestinian UN-related moves, the bill denies funds to the Palestinian Authority if:
· the Palestinians obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians
· the Palestinians request, petition, apply, refer, or actively support an investigation or prosecution of Israeli nationals before the International Criminal Court.
July 15, 2013
With great fanfare and way back in March, the UN created "the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic" and appointed Åke Sellström as head of mission. Various UN press releases - also now months old - said the mission was poised to spring into action. "I can report that the United Nations investigation mission is now in a position to deploy in Syria in less than 24 hours," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on April 8, 2013. In the meantime, with little comfort to Syrians, the SG has used UN conferences to carry on about "historic achievements" and "remarkable progress" in eliminating chemical weapons. Now we hear on July 11, 2013 about more "progress." Here's the UN idea of making a difference in the Syrian conflict, according to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General: "the Head of the United Nations mission to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic ha[s] obtained the Secretary-General's approval to accept the invitation of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to visit Damascus, and the Secretary-General hopes that this visit will occur as soon as possible...[T]he purpose of the visit will be to complete the consultations on the modalities of cooperation required for the proper, safe and efficient conduct of the mission...[I]t is not the investigation mission, it's to go there to complete the consultations on the modalities." The UN of the 21st century in a nutshell: travel to the country where a hundred thousand deaths have already occurred and where casualties continue to mount daily to consult on the modalities of cooperation.