Did Richard Falk promote human rights?

UN Watch testimony to UN Human Rights Council delivered by executive director Hillel Neuer, 24 March 2014. The speech was interrupted numerous times by the Palestinian Authority, supported with objections by Cuba, Pakistan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Venezuela.

Mr. Falk, in this, your final report, you address the six years of your now-ending term. Were they a success? Let us consider. Did you promote human rights?

We could ask the Israeli people. But the terms of your mandate refused to consider their human rights, so we cannot ask them.

Let us ask the Palestinian people. We should hear from their sole legitimate representative. On 16 February 2010, as revealed by Wikileaks, the Palestinian delegation here in Geneva met their diplomatic counterparts. The meeting was recorded in a diplomatic cable. I quote: “The Palestinians informed us that they were seeking the removal of Special Rapporteur Richard Falk… [due to his poor performance, and his reference to Hamas in his draft report to the Council.]”

Palestine requests point of order. Thank you, Mr. President. The speaker must respect this interactive dialogue, which only covers the report of the Special Rapporteur. What he had just said has no connection with the item under discussion, and I do not even know what organization this speaker represents. Thank you, Sir.

President: We are within the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur, Mr Falk, the mandate-holder, and delegates within this dialogue may ask questions and make comments relevant to the report under review. It is in that light that I wish to call on this speaker who had the floor to focus on the report and abstain from focusing his statement on a specific question or situation that is not raised by the special rapporteur. I give him the floor once more, and I hope that this comment will be taken into account. Thank you.

Neuer resumes: In reference to the last paragraph of your report, I quote: “Palestinian Deputy Permanent Representative Imad Zuhairi was visibly upset by Special Rapporteur Falk’s reference to Hamas in his draft report. Zuhairi argued that he had too often corrected Falk’s many errors, and that this latest misguided effort by Falk had gone too far.”

“Zuhairi said he might use the February HRC meeting to seek to block Falk’s report from being presented to the HRC on the grounds that Falk overstepped his mandate, addressed issues outside his brief, and failed to appropriately recognize a UNGA resolution, not to mention the legitimate authority of the PA.”

Another Point of Order from the State of Palestine: Mr. President, I would ask you to be firmer, and conduct the work of this session more firmly. We are here to make comments only on the report of Mr. Falk. The speaker has spoken of our embassy and Mr Imad Zuhairi. That is entirely outside of this topic, and perhaps that is how he speaks to his counterparts, but in this forum he must be forbidden from speaking.

Point of Order by Saudi Arabia: Thank you, Mr President. I fully support what has just been said by the ambassador of the State of Palestine, and I ask you as president, Sir, to be firmer as regards respect for the procedure of our work and the statement that may be made by states and NGOs.

President: Thank you Mr. Ambassador. I will not repeat what I just said, and I simply ask the speaker to observe the comments that have been made. I have clarified regarding the first point of order, and I give him the floor counting on his cooperation and respecting the rules of procedure of the council. Thank you.

Neuer resumes: “Zuhairi also said he wished Falk would drop his repeated suggestions that Israel’s actions in the OPT be equated with the Holocaust.” “In light of the reference to Hamas, Zuhairi said he had called Falk personally and asked him to step down, something Falk angrily rejected.” Mr. Falk…

Point of Order from the State of Palestine: Mr. President, for the last time, I might ask you to interrupt the speaker as soon as he moves off the topic that we are reviewing. We are today 24th March 2014, examining Mr. Falk’s report and we must limit ourselves to reviewing that and commenting upon it. Otherwise, I would feel obliged to interrupt through other known procedures.

Point of Order from Pakistan: We would like to support Palestine and remind the NGO, with due respect, that the mandate of the special procedures as laid down in Resolution 5/2 should be respected, and the special procedure mandate holders should be allowed to work independently, and they should not face undue criticism from those who just want to malign their given mandate, which has been given by the council.

Point of Order from Cuba: We wish to echo what has been said by Pakistan and the State of Palestine regarding the point of order. I believe you must ask this NGO to respect the rules of the council. If not, Mr. President, we must stop it from continuing.

Point of Order from Venezuela: Mr. President, Venezuela supports the point of order presented by Palestine, and Pakistan and Cuba. We consider that your warning has been clear, as directed toward that speaker, so we believe that he should not be given the floor.

Point of Order from Algeria: I would also like to support what was said by the representative of Palestine. My delegation also considers that the interactive dialogue must be focused exclusively on the content of the report presented.

Point of Order from Saudi Arabia: I believe that a number of delegations have spoken, and that you could, thus, interrupt this speaker. I would also wish that the report make no mention of the statement that we have just heard from that NGO.

President: In light of these statements, I simply remind the speaker that he must focus…

Point of order from Morocco: The delegation of the Kingdom of Morocco would like to support the request made by the Ambassador of Palestine.

President: Thank you. I was saying, that in light of these comments, I invite the speaker to conclude in focusing on the report of Mr. Richard Falk.

Neuer resumes: Thank you, Mr. President.

Mr Falk, in the last paragraph of your report, you blame UN Watch for attacks. Do you also blame us for what the PA has said, for whtat the Palestinian people have said, which you yourself admitted in the Ma’an newspaper. Thank you, Mr. President.

UN Watch