De Alba Reveals: Eric Tistounet Tried to Stop Hillel Neuer’s Famous 2007 Banned Speech

In 2007, Hillel Neuer delivered a speech at the UN Human Rights Council that was the first in history to go viral at the United Nations.

The Wall Street Journal was among a dozen newspapers and magazines worldwide that condemned the heavy-handed reply of the Chair, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, who banned the speech from ever being delivered again.

In his 2016 memoirs, De Alba reveals that the Secretariat—i.e., Eric Tistounet—had actually recommended that he interrupt Hillel Neuer’s speech before its conclusion, but he declined, sufficing with a rebuke.

De Alba: “It should be noted that this tolerant reaction of the presidency was abusively interpreted by the speaker, who produced a video that began to circulate on YouTube, and for this reason the president’s response began to be seen as a repressive act against the speaker’s freedom of expression.

Extract from “La creación del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU: crónica de una negociación multilateral, by Luis Alfonso de Alba, and Víctor Genina, pp. 283-285:

The third event that caused controversy, more outside the Council than within it, was the call for attention made by the presidency to a representative of the NGO United Nations Watch.

On March 23, in the follow-up segment to the decision of the third special session on the Israeli attacks on Beit Hanoun, the representative of this organization wondered what had become of the dream of the founders of the Commission on Human Rights who met in Geneva sixty years ago, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin.

In his own response, he said that the Council had done nothing in the face of torture, murder and suffering in the world, and had only responded with criminal silence and indifference. He also quoted Harry Truman’s famous phrase: “Do nothing, good for nothing”, in reference to the Council, although he pointed out that the Council had done something: condemn Israel and guarantee impunity for Hamas and Hezbollah.

He also asserted that “the despots who controlled the Council” had remained silent in the face of the raped women in Darfur, the situations in Tibet and Chechnya, and in the face of the murder of Palestinians at the hands of the Palestinians, all because they could not blame Israel for it and that, on the contrary, they sought to delegitimize the Israeli state by distorting the letter and spirit of human rights.

Finally, he asserted that with “terrible lies and moral reversals” the dream of the Commission’s founders had turned into a nightmare.

There is no need to comment on the content and tone of this intervention which, by the way, the Secretariat, following the Commission’s practice of avoiding as much offensive language as possible in the interventions, recommended that the chairman interrupt it before its conclusion, which he did not do in order to avoid setting a precedent that could have a negative impact on the rest of the NGOs participating in the work, especially given the difficulty of ensuring their participation, as mentioned in the chapter on the second and third regular periods.

Therefore, on this occasion, the chairman simply pointed out to the speaker, once he had finished his intervention, that a similar statement would not be tolerated in the future, given the way in which he had referred to the Members of the Council and to the Council itself; also that, in memory of the personalities he had mentioned and for the sake of human rights, a minimum of behavior and language should be observed in any future intervention, otherwise any statement made in a similar tone to the one pronounced would be deleted from the minutes.

It should be noted that this tolerant reaction of the presidency was abusively interpreted by the speaker, who produced a video that began to circulate on YouTube, and for this reason the president’s response began to be seen as a repressive act against the speaker’s freedom of expression.

Fortunately, the other NGOs, including the most serious of them, expressed their support for the chair’s leadership and regretted the speaker’s abuse and the potential consequences of that day on the chair’s efforts precisely to broaden the scope of NGO participation and make the Council’s work more transparent.

WORLD REACTION TO DE ALBA’S CENSORSHIP
Banned UN Watch Speech Covered in Newspapers and Magazine Around the World
Click here for full text of editorials below

  • Wall Street Journal editorial, “Your U.N. at Work” March 30, 2007
  • New York Sun editorial, “I will not express thanks” March 30, 2007
  • National Post (Canada) editorial, “The UN’s human rights charade,” March 31, 2007
  • National Post (Canada) column, Steven Edwards, “UN’s ‘noble dream’ a nightmare,” March 31, 2007
  • Slate blog, Michael Weiss, “Watch Out,” March 30, 2007
  • The Australian op-ed, Alan Gold, “New name, but the shame is still the same,” April 17, 2007
  • The Vancouver Sun op-ed, April 14, 2007; Winnipeg Free Press, April 15, 2007; Edmonton Journal, April 16, 2007, M. Ronen, “UN council doesn’t like to hear hard truths”
  • Il Foglio Quotidiano editorial, “Nota impegnativa dell’Onu: Lapidare i froci non è reato, e altre nefandezze con l’egida multikulti,” March 31, 2007
  • Commentary Magazine blog, “What Human-Rights Violations?”, March 26, 2007
  • Foreign Policy blog, “U.N. Human Rights Council gets serious,” March 29, 2007
  • Andrew Sullivan blog in Atlantic Monthly, “An Inadmissible Speech,” March 29, 2007
  • Columbia Political Review, The Neuer Affair”, by Bari Weiss,
UN Watch

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