Friday, March 31, 2017

After #HRC34, ICP Asks UK Of Its Position on Agenda Item 7, That UN Not Show Undue Bias

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 – As the UN Human Rights Council ended its 34th session on March 24, the UK's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Julian Braithwaite said, "If things do not change, in the future we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Syrian and Palestinian Territories." Later on March 24 in New York Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft about it. From the UK transcript: 
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the UK’s position on Palestine. I think earlier today Julian Braithwaite, the Ambassador in Geneva, said that the UK seems to be calling into question whether it should be a agenda item 7, which is generally about Israel Palestine. Is that the UK’s position, and is it a changed position, does that indicate any change in your position here at the Security Council on things like the resolution on settlements?

Amb Rycroft: "The UK position on the substance of peace in the Middle East remains unchanged. We continue to support the two-state solution, as the only viable, long-term solution there. And that means two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. The issue about Geneva is that we have to ask ourselves whether different parts of the UN family here in New York or in Geneva are doing everything they possibly could to bring peace in the Middle East closer, or whether actually they are becoming part of an obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

"And so, I think what he was saying was that we need to make sure that the Human Rights Council, for instance, does not show any undue bias, and that the Human Rights Council focuses as best it can on helping to bring peace in the Middle East closer. In the Security Council, I don’t think we have quite the same dynamic, but we will continue to use our position here to press for all obstacles to peace in the Middle East to be removed."
  Before HRC34 ended, on the Syria resolution Ecuador and Egypt abstained, while Kyrgyzstan voted no. The final vote was 27 yes, 7 no, 13 abstentions. Egypt noted that it did not join the consensus on North Korea, but said it reserves the right to "intervene" on the issue of the Japanese abductees. Video here, from Minute 2:40. The US representative called for a vote on each resolution under Agenda Item 7, see above. Meanwhile the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has not spoken on the Internet cut-off in Cameroon; its spokesman Rupert Colville has not even responded to Inner City Press questions including on that topic, and Prince Zeid's retaliation against whistleblowers. Maybe budget cuts or withdrawal would lead to reform: nothing else has.
  Earlier in the session, UN official Oscar Fernandez-Taranco offered unalloyed praise of UN support to Sri Lanka. As Inner City Press has reported, just earlier this month, UN system support has included to Sri Lanka's National Authority for Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses which includes, among others, a person accused by the UN's own Special Rapporteur of torture. Inner City Press has asked the UN Spokespeople, three weeks ago, without answer.
 Now on March 15, the US State Department says: "On Monday, March 13 at the UN Human Rights Council the United States and other members of the Friends of Sri Lanka Core Group tabled a draft resolution on promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka that reflects our enduring commitment to lasting peace and justice for all the people of Sri Lanka.

The United States worked in close consultation with the United Kingdom, Montenegro, and Macedonia, and in partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka, to draft the resolution.  We look forward to the adoption of the text, which will support reconciliation and justice in Sri Lanka, help ensure a non-recurrence of conflict, and strengthen democratic governance and freedoms for all Sri Lankans.

The United States is pleased that Sri Lanka has agreed once again to co-sponsor the resolution, and invites like-minded UN members to demonstrate support for reconciliation and peace in Sri Lanka by adding their names to the list of cosponsors.  The United States applauds the administration of President Sirisena for its continuing efforts to promote reconciliation." We'll have more on this.
   Meanwhile UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid hearkened back to the League of Nations, whose dissolution he blamed on, among other things, "the absence of the United States." These days, Zeid has retaliated against at least three whistleblowers (Anders Kompass, Miranda Brown and now Emma Reilly, who has been banned from speaking even as Zeid's spokesperson Rupert Colville trashes her (and Inner City Press and GAP) in a press release. Nor has Colville answered simple written questions from Inner City Press. Arrogance, too, can undermine an organization. We'll have more on this. 
As to Sri Lanka, the wider UN, which half-admitted systemic failure under Ban Ki-moon while tens of thousands of Tamils were killed, has been supporting something called the National Authority for Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses.
  But now that the body has been shown to include, among others, a person accused by the UN's own Special Rapporteur of torture, what does the UN do? Nothing, it seems.
  The issue was raised again on February 20 in the 66th Session of Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Video here. This came, as it happens, hours after the son in law of just-left UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Siddharth Chatterjee, dodged again on his connection to alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. He wrote: "The fact is that I arrived in Sri Lanka having cut short a specialized combat under water diving course with the Indian Navy on October 16, 1987. The raid at Jaffna University took place on 12 October 1987." But it was after the failed October 12 raid - and after Chatterjee's now specified October 16 arrival - that the alleged reprisals took place. We'll have more on this, including in light of the new human rights self-attestation promulgated in the UN.
 On February 14, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about it. He had no answer, and later in the briefing, regarding Ban Ki-moon who has had two relatives indicted for real estate fraud involving the UN, called Inner City Press "obsessive" then an a*hole. 
(This same Haq in 2016 cut off Press questions about a protest in Jaffna of Ban Ki-moon's unilateral eviction from the UN of Inner City Press, where it remains restricted as  "non-resident correspondent.")
  Here's from the February 14 UN transcript, on Sri Lanka:
Inner City Press: I want to ask you about Sri Lanka, and I'll say why.  There's a report out by the International Truth and Justice Project run by Yasmin Sooka, who was one of the named panellists.  And they've basically said that there's a Sri Lankan body called the National Authority for Victim and Witness Protection, and they've named a member of the body, put on by the Government, who's named in a UN report as having been accused of torture by a Special Rapporteur on Torture.  And the reason I'm asking is the UN is apparently providing financial support to this National Authority for Victim and Witness Protection.  There's a… a… they've… they've hired a management consultant.  And I wanted to know, is the UN, given its previous role in Sri Lanka, aware that it's financially supporting a body that has, in fact, torturers on it?  And, if so, what happens to the financial support?

Deputy Spokesman:  We'd have to check and see what sort of financial support is being provided.  I'm not aware of what support is given to this group and whether that would need to be conditioned on any particular set of circumstances.  
  Haq, after calling Inner City Press an obsessive a*hole, left his office hours later having provided no answer. Here is the report, and here a sample UN system recruitment, showing support. 

40,000 dead Tamils, UN failure? Get over it.