U.N. Rights Experts Slammed for Criticizing Mideast Peace Talk


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U.N. Rights Experts Slammed for Criticizing Mideast Peace Talk

Geneva, Aug. 4, 2005 –  In a statement released today by the United Nations in Geneva (click here for full text), eight of its human rights experts criticized the U.N.s involvement in the internationally-sponsored Road Map for Middle East peace, saying the negotiations are not premised on compliance with the Opinion of the [International Court of Justice] concerning Israels security barrier.  They said that while the exact nature of the negotiations is unclear, the talks seem to accept the continued presence of some settlements, which were found by the ICJ to be unlawful.

The rapporteurs said the U.N. should be concerned about incompatibility between the Road Map negotiations and last years advisory opinion by the ICJ.  The United Nations clearly cannot make itself a party to negotiations that are not based on the Opinion of its own judicial body, said the statement.

The release comes on the same day as moderate Arab leaders are urging support for the negotiations.  Implementing the Road Map, which includes Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, is the only way to garner peace and guarantee the rights of all parties to ensure peace and stability in the region,” said King Abdullah in a meeting with visiting Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz.  The Road Map plan which was drafted by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations provides for an independent Palestine at peace with Israel, said the King.

U.N. analysts question the timing of the experts press release.  The one-sided statement by the rapporteurs poses an obstacle to what has been encouraging progress on Middle East peace, and could not have come at a worse time, said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch.

With Israeli-Arab negotiations suddenly breathing new signs of lifeand with Israel making agonizing concessions for peace, even under the continuing fire of Palestinian suicide bombings and rocket attacksthe rapporteurs express attack on the UN-sponsored Road Map negotiations is perplexing, and represents a giant step backwards, said Neuer. 

It is a sad day when eight UN officials citing formalistic arguments over pragmatic principles of conflict resolution openly oppose bilateral negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians that are taking place under the internationally-recognized Road Map for peace. 

Neuer noted that the U.N. mandates of several signatories to the statement including the experts on trafficking, discrimination, or violence against women bear no apparent nexus to the issue of the security barrier.  Judge Koroma of the ICJ ruled in 1999 that [the appointment of] a special Rapporteur, or the fact that he has been entrusted with a mission by the United Nations, does not of itself allow him to operate outside his mandate.

The statement by the experts made no mention of the terrorism that in the past five years has killed over 1,000 Israelis and injured more than 7,000.  According to The Jerusalem Post, public opinion polls show that upwards of 90 percent of Israelis support the barrier as an effective means of preventing further suicide bombings.

UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information.
UN Watch