Watchdog urges Canada’s McGill U. to distance itself from U.N.’s Richard Falk


GENEVA, Nov. 8 – Following its National Post op-ed today criticizing McGill University for hosting a lecture next Monday by controversial U.N. figure Richard Falk, a Geneva-based watchdog group called on the Montreal institution to join UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice in condemning Falk’s 9/11 conspiracy theories and other offensive statements.

“While it was a serious lapse in judgment for McGill to have invited Falk in the first place,” said UN Watch director Hillel Neuer, a McGill law graduate, “it’s important to note that we are not calling for him to be silenced or censored.”

“Rather, because freedom of speech works both ways, we’re asking McGill to speak out and clarify that it joins the international community in condemning Falk’s insult to the memory of 9/11 victims, and the Palestinian Authority’s rightful objections to Falk’s massive support for the Hamas terror group.”

Today’s UN Watch letter follows below.

UN Watch

Nandini Ramanujam
Executive Director
McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism
3644 Peel Street
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3A 1W9

November 8, 2011

Dear Ms. Ramanujam,

I am a proud graduate of the McGill University Faculty of Law and its human rights program. Together with many other alumni worldwide, I am shocked that your Centre has decided to give a platform to Professor Richard Falk, a lifelong apologist for terrorists and a major 9/11 conspiracy theorist. The invitation damages the cause of human rights and the reputation of our cherished alma mater. For your information, I enclose my op-ed on this grave matter from today’s National Post.

Given that Falk has been condemned by international figures for his latest incitement to racism and other grossly offensive statements, McGill’s decision to host him as a human rights authority next week sends absolutely the wrong message, at the wrong time. I respectfully urge McGill University to make clear that it joins in these principled objections, thereby mitigating some of the damage caused by legitimizing this notorious figure with a McGill podium.

It was just this year when United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in an unprecedented act vis-à-vis one of his own officials, took the floor of the Human Rights Council to denounce Falk’s “preposterous” 9/11 conspiracy theories, which, said the Secretary-General, constituted “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack.”

Moreover, United States Ambassador Susan Rice, a strong supporter of the UN human rights system, called Falk’s comments “despicable,” “deeply offensive,” and “so noxious” that “it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the UN.” She compared his comments to “similarly slanderous” remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The cause of human rights, said Ambassador Rice, would be “better advanced without Mr. Falk and the distasteful sideshow he has chosen to create.”

Finally, this summer, Falk published a cartoon depicting Jews and Americans as bloodthirsty dogs. In another unprecedented censure of one of her own officials, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay found the cartoon to be “anti-Semitic” and “objectionable,” as did anti-racism groups worldwide. Falk’s cartoon was also strongly condemned in a recent statement by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Despite these high-level condemnations, Falk refuses to change his behavior. In the past two months alone, Falk has (a) endorsed the latest 9/11 conspiracy book by his disciple and friend David Ray Griffin; (b) published an Al Jazeera article arguing that “9/11 as an event remains contested” and that the “official version of the events” was a “massive subversion of truth and political legitimacy”; and (c) provided the cover-page endorsement to The Wandering Who?, a new book which contemplates the argument that “Hitler was right after all,” with Falk hailing the author, Gilad Atzmon, as a “de-Zionized patriot of humanity.”

Does this person really merit being presented to McGill students as an authority on anything—let alone on law, morality and human rights?

In light of the above, I respectfully urge you to do the right thing by making clear McGill University’s position on Falk’s despicable statements.

Thank you for your consideration.


Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director

UN Watch

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