Canada is calling on the United Nations to fire Richard Falk, the international body’s special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.
It was revealed last week that a report authored by Falk calls on the UN Human Rights Council to shut down non-profit organization UN Watch.
Established in 1993, the watchdog group is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee. Its executive director, Hillel Neuer, is a Montrealer, and Liberal MP for Mount Royal Irwin Cotler is on its board.
UN Watch participates at the UN as an accredited NGO with special consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council and as an associate NGO with the UN Department of Public Information.
Since its inception, it has criticized the UN for excessive preoccupation with Israel and, according to its website, for overt “bias against Israel… in bodies such as the General Assembly, which each year passes some 19 resolutions against Israel and none against most other member states, including the world’s most repressive regimes.”
In an annual report on Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights that was to be presented to the Human Rights Council on June 17, Falk calls for an investigation of UN Watch leading to its closure.
Falk accuses the Geneva-based NGO of “demeaning” and “defaming” his character, damaging the “credibility,” “effectiveness” and “substantive intention” of his mandate. He says this “diverts attention from the message” and “shifts public interest away.”
Falk’s comments came less than a month after UN Watch’s draft resolution to remove him from his position in the wake of his comments blaming the Boston Marathon bombings on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv” was published by the United Nations as an official document.
In his annual report, Falk slams what he calls Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land.
“Israel continues to annex Palestinian territory; Israel persists in demolishing Palestinians’ homes and populating Palestine with Israeli citizens; Israel maintains a policy of collectively punishing 1.75 million Palestinians through its imposition of a blockade on the Gaza Strip, and Israel prosecutes its occupation with impunity, refusing to accept the world’s calls to respect international law,” he wrote.
Falk also repeats his prior call for a boycott of companies conducting business with Israel or Israelis in the West Bank.
Canada has since called for Falk’s dismissal from his position.
On June 11, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney slammed Falk during question period in Parliament.
“Richard Falk is an embarrassment to the United Nations Human Rights Council. He has praised 9/11 conspiracy theorists repeatedly. He has suggested that the United States provoked terrorist attacks against it. He is now attacking Canadian-led UN Watch. We call on Richard Falk to be fired as a special rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council. He is a disgrace to that body and the United Nations,” he said.
In a 2008 article in the U.K.-based The Journal titled “9/11: More than meets the eye,” Falk speculated on American complicity in the Sept. 11 attacks, writing that it “is not paranoid under such circumstances to assume that the established elites of the American governmental structure have something to hide, and much to explain.”
David Koschitzky, chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, congratulated Kenney on his comments in the House of Commons and also issued a rebuke to the UN over Falk’s comments.
“[Falk’s] offensive remarks and the culture that enables, defends and even encourages them undermine the ability of the UN to play a constructive role. This should not be tolerated by the international community and only serves to compromise the credibility of a once proud and productive institution,” Koschitzky said in a statement.
“In many ways, Mr. Falk epitomizes the deeply entrenched prejudices, destructive politicization and systemic failings afflicting the UN, and in particular the Human Rights Council. It is essential that countries of conscience call upon the UN to undertake some much-needed soul-searching and enact reforms to end its ongoing abuse by those who weaken the genuine cause of human rights.”
On June 14, the U.S. representative to the Human Rights Council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, condemned Falk’s report and called on other member states of the council to “denounce Falk and his outrageous abuse of the position he holds.”
Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said his organization agrees with Donahoe’s conclusion that Falk “is unfit to serve in his role as a UN special rapporteur.”
“If he does not leave voluntarily, the Human Rights Council should remove him,” Foxman said.
“Mr. Falk’s attempt to paint himself as the victim of an Israeli government-sponsored defamation campaign, carried out by UN Watch, has echoes of classical antisemitic conspiracy theories.”
With files from TimesofIsrael.com and JTA