U.N. Special Rapporteur Richard Falk Attacks UN Watch

by Brett Schaefer

Richard Falk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, is upset. Falk is demanding a full investigation of UN Watch. He wants the group stripped of its U.N. accreditation. Without that accreditation, which allows the organization to more freely attend and speak at U.N. meetings, UN Watch would find it much more difficult to fulfill its purpose.

So what has UN Watch done to earn Falk’s wrath? It has had the effrontery, the sheer, unmitigated gall, to . . . report what Richard Falk has said.

Here’s how Falk pleads his case in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council filed earlier today:

Since the Special Rapporteur [that would be the report’s author, Falk] assumed this position, “UN Watch” — a “pro-Israel” lobbying organization accredited as an NGO to ECOSOC, has issued a series of defamatory attacks demeaning his character, repeatedly distorting his views on potentially inflammatory issues. This smear campaign has been carried out in numerous settings, including at the Human Rights Council, as well as university venues where the Special Rapporteur gives lectures in his personal capacity on subjects unrelated to the mandate. The lobby groups’ smears have been sent to diplomats and United Nations officials, including the Secretary-General, who has apparently accepted the allegations at face value, issuing public criticism of the Special Rapporteur. It is disappointing that such irresponsible and dishonest attacks have been taken seriously, with no effort to seek the views of the Special Rapporteur or verify the accuracy of the allegations. To set the record straight, the Special Rapporteur proposes that UN Watch be investigated to determine whether it qualifies as an independent organization that operates in accord with its name and stated objectives, and is not indirectly sponsored by the Government of Israel and/or other “pro-Israel” lobbying groups affiliated with the Government, as well as whether its programme of work is of direct relevance to the aims and purposes of the United Nations.

So, to “set the record straight” about Falk’s behavior, Falk proposes a rigorous investigation of . . . UN Watch. He goes on to recommend that the U.N. “establish a mechanism to support Special Rapporteurs who are subject to defamatory attacks.”

The chutzpah here is enormous. Falk has been repeatedly condemned by the U.N. secretary general and the U.S. government for anti-Semitic prejudice, endorsement of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and other offensive statements. Most recently, he implied that the U.S. and its support for Israel were to blame for the bombings in Boston.

In response to Falk’s unprecedented report today, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva promptly issued another condemnation:

Mr. Falk’s most recent statement, which he dramatically and recklessly included in an official UN document, is characteristic of previous reprehensible comments and actions he has made during his tenure as a special rapporteur. It once again starkly demonstrates that he is unfit to serve in his role as a UN special rapporteur.

His views and behavior, both official and unofficial, are offensive and provocative and do nothing to advance peace in the Middle East or to further the protection and promotion of human rights. We again call for his resignation.

UN Watch does admirable work reporting and analyzing the activities of the Human Rights Council, particularly that body’s bias against Israel. The U.S. should be commended for defending UN Watch against this blatant attempt by Falk to intimidate and punish a U.N. accredited NGO for accurately alerting the broader human rights community to his statements and actions. Those wishing to support UN Watch can do so here.

— Brett Schaefer is the Jay Kingham Fellow on International Regulatory Affairs at the Heritage Foundation.

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