UK lawyers oppose Penny Green for UN, in letter to Baroness Anelay

Letter sent by the UK Lawyers for Israel

Baroness Anelay of St Johns
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW
17 March 2016 
Dear Baroness Anelay,
UNHRC Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967
UK Lawyers for Israel is a voluntary association of lawyers who seek to promote the proper application of the law in matters relating to Israel.
We refer to the recent recommendation by the Consultative Group to the President of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that Professor Penelope Green be appointed Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
Professor Green is wholly unsuitable for this position for the reasons explained below. We urge you to make immediate representations to the Council President, Choi Kyong-lim of the Republic of Korea prior to the decision which is scheduled to be made at the plenary on 24 March 2016. Since Professor Green is a British citizen, representations by the British government may carry particular weight.
Professor Green is a long-standing critic of Israel who has made no secret of her views. For example:

  • Professor Green has signed an open letter entitled “Israel must lose”, in which she and others accused Israel of “waging a war against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years”. The letter could not be clearer in its declaration of partiality, saying: “we are obliged to take sides… against Israel”.[1] Another open letter signed by Professor Green alleges that “[e]ntire families have been murdered” by Israel.[2]
  • Professor Green has also tweeted that Israel has a “criminal government”, which should be resisted,[3] and used language reminiscent of blood libels, claiming Israel has engaged in the “brutal killing of children”.[4]
  • In a published article Professor Green alleged that “Israel and its international backers engage in state crimes on a colossal scale”.[5]

It is a fundamental principle of justice that “no one shall be the judge of his own cause”. Through her public pronouncements Ms. Green has identified with and adopted the condemnation of Israel as her cause and has thereby disqualified herself from any form of judicial position concerning the conflict. If she is appointed as the Special Rapporteur, there could be little doubt that she would not reach any “conclusion” other than a vicious condemnation of Israel.
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 is itself an example of structural bias against Israel within the UNHRC. The text of the mandate provides that the Special Rapporteur is charged with investigating only “Israel’s violations.” It is absurd that such a mandate should be limited to the so-called “violations” of just one party to a conflict. Although the mandate is outside the scope of this particular complaint, the injustice created by its mere existence will be exacerbated if the so-called Special Rapporteur chosen is so obviously biased.
Professor Green and her supporters may argue that it is impossible for a person to be recognised as an expert in a conflict without taking some form of public view as to its merits. However Professor Green’s pronouncements go beyond scholarly conclusions. In reality they are dogmatic and politicised assertions which betray rather than serve academia’s search for the truth.
If the UNHRC is to fulfil its mandate of “impartiality” and “objectivity”,[6] then it is essential that it be seen by all parties as trustworthy and impartial – including those who may be subject to criticism. The appointment of biased officers to supposedly neutral investigations undermines any trust that nations can place in the UNHRC. The selection of an adjudicator who has already made up her mind even before embarking upon the exercise will render the investigation useless for all sides.
Moreover, the biased and misleading findings that will no doubt be made will presumably be published, circulated and covered in the media. As the Prime Minister pointed out in his speech at Ninestiles School last year, the demonization of Israel leads to terrorism on the streets of Britain, as well as elsewhere: “It may begin with hearing about the so-called Jewish conspiracy and then develop into hostility to the West and fundamental liberal values, before finally becoming a cultish attachment to death”.
In these circumstances, we hope that you will agree that British interests, as well as the wider interest of respect for international human rights law and institutions, will be better served by not appointing Professor Green to this position; and that you will act accordingly.
Nothing in this letter should be taken as an endorsement of any of the other candidates shortlisted.
Yours sincerely
 Jonathan D. C. Turner
Chair, UK Lawyers for Israel
Cc Tobias Ellwood MP
[1] “Israel Must Lose, Petition: Growing outrage at the killings in Gaza, Global Research, January 17 2009,
[2]Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel’s Gaza Offensive, Website of Richard Falk, 28 July 2014,
[3] P. Green, Tweet of 23 October 2015,
[4] P. Green, Tweet of 18 July 2014,
[5] P. Green, The War on Gaza: Israeli state crime and western complicity, International State Crime Initiative,
[6] UNHRC Resolutions 5/1 and 16/21.

UN Watch