The Wednesday Watch
Analysis and Commentary from UN Watch in Geneva
Wednesday, 3 November 2004
News: In a new 76-page report
www.unwatch.org/pbworks/UNA-UK_Report.pdf analyzing 13 years of
United Nations resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the United Nations
Association of the United Kingdom (UNA-UK) has concluded that UN resolutions
are markedly slanted against Israel. In light of the study's conclusions,
Malcolm Harper, speaking on behalf of the UNA-UK (of which he was director
until recently), called for an examination into how, if at all, these
lopsided resolutions contribute to the Middle East peace process. The
report, made public here www.unwatch.org/pbworks/UNA-UK_Report.pdf
for the first time ( www.unwatch.org/pbworks/UNA-UK_Report.pdf ), makes the
following principal findings:
* The texts of UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions are
"often unbalanced in terms of the length of criticism and condemnation of
Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories as against Palestinian actions
such as suicide bombings."
* The United Nations is "palpably more critical of Israeli policies and
practices than it is of either Palestinian actions or the wider Arab world."
* In resolutions of the UN General Assembly, "[v]iolence perpetrated
against Israeli civilians, including the use of suicide bombers, is
mentioned only a few times and then in only vague terms."
Analysis: At a September 2003 meeting of the Executive Committee of the
World Federation of UN Associations, Rena Shashua-Hasson of Israel asked her
fellow members to sign a statement criticizing the imbalance of UN
resolutions on the Middle East. Several balked, claiming they first needed
to look into the issue. The UNA-UK volunteered to do the necessary
research, and produced its report one year later.
The report, together with UNA-UK's recommendation for action, boldly
confronts one of the UN's most egregious inequities. Bold, because most
individuals from the diplomatic, NGO and academic establishments prefer to
ignore this prickly issue - or, at most, to make due with a vague reference
to the general problem of politicization. The UNA-UK report sheds light on
the outrageous situation whereby each year Israel is targeted in half the
country-specific resolutions at the Commission on Human Rights, and then by
some 20 resolutions at the General Assembly.
The UNA-UK appears to have grasped that the original vision of the UN will
have little resonance so long as the principal UN organs grossly violate the
UN Charter's guarantee of "equal rights of nations large and small." And
that the astonishing amount of time devoted to lopsided resolutions on the
Middle East directly detract from the time and resources the UN ought to
spend on confronting hunger in the Ivory Coast or mass rape in Darfur -
both of which continue unabated.
True, the bulk of the report is a laundry list of UN resolutions, and the
study comes up long on textual citations and short on analysis. Despite
these flaws, the report makes it abundantly clear that the UN needs to
change its ways.
As it happens, UN Watch, under the chairmanship of Ambassador Alfred H.
Moses, has been charting the way forward. UN Watch spearheads a diplomatic
campaign to replace the lopsided and counter-productive annual resolutions
with a single balanced resolution that would address Israeli and Arab
obligations. In April 2004, a proposed text for just such a balanced
resolution was presented to the Commission on Human Rights by the head of
the U.S. delegation, to consider for the future.
The future is now. Significantly, as Mr. Harper learned from the U.K.
Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, the European Union group at
the UN is currently seeking to establish a "broad discussion" of the utility
of the annual anti-Israel resolutions. To be sure, moving to a single
balanced resolution will incur the wrath of the 57-strong Islamic group at
the UN, and hence require a good dose of political will. The UNA-AK has
shown its courage - will European states, whose role is determinative here,
now do the same?
Displacement in Darfur: Continuing to flout Security Council resolutions,
the Sudanese government is forcibly relocating hundreds of internally
displaced people in the strife-torn Darfur region. UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan strongly urged Khartoum to halt its operations and to facilitate
the return of affected people from the "inappropriate sites" to which they
Halting Trafficking: Sigma Huda of Bangladesh has been appointed as UN
Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
Ms. Huda has been a leader in the Bangladesh Women Lawyers Association, the
Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights, and in the fight
against trafficking and sexual exploitation, particularly of women and
girls, from Bangladesh to India.
Ziegler Exposed: A new study by UN Watch, entitled
www.unwatch.org/pbworks/blind_to_burundi.pdf "Blind to Burundi",
demonstrates how the UN expert on food has neglected the impoverished
central African country, as well as many other of the world's food
emergencies. The report's 33 pages of graphs, charts and legal discussion
show how Jean Ziegler, a Marxist sociologist and former Swiss
parliamentarian, has blatantly abused his mandate on food to promote his
radical political agenda.
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