The text drafted by U.N. Watch text accused Richard Falk, the HRC’s “special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories,” of grossly and systematically violating his duties as a council expert.
Three weeks ago Falk, an international law scholar at Princeton, provoked a storm of protest with a commentary suggesting that attacks like the Boston bombing were the understandable consequence of what he called the “American global domination project,” citing in particular U.S. support for Israel.
U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice called the April 19 commentary – which was reposted, among other places, on the Hezbollah website al-Manar – “highly offensive” and repeated calls she has made in the past for Falk to go.
After what he described as “a flood of comments” and “a wave of hate mail,” Falk on April 25 published a “clarification,” in which he insisted that he had “no intention whatsoever to connect any dots as to whether there was a causal linkage between what the U.S. or Israel have done in the world and what happened in Boston.”
But in a subsequent interview with The Daily Princetonian, published early this week, Falk waded into fresh controversy.
“The U.S. is really the only country that projects its military power to all parts of the world,” the paper quoted him as saying, adding that “engaging in military undertakings around the world is bound to produce some kinds of resistance, and that resistance as in the Boston incident can assume a pathological form.”
“One would have thought and hoped that these kinds of experiences would give rise to more self-awareness, self-scrutiny – looking at the mirror and seeing how others perceive what we’re doing in the world,” Falk said.
(“Resistance” is the euphemistic term favored by Hezbollah, Hamas and the Iranian and Syrian regimes – the self-described “resistance front” – for anti-Israel terrorism.)
This is far from the first time Falk has drawn criticism since the HRC appointed him in 2008.
At the time of his appointment Israel questioned the impartiality – a stated requirement for the post – of a man who had compared its treatment of Palestinians to Nazi Germany’s atrocities against Jews.
After Falk early in his tenure accused Israel of “war crimes,” the Israeli government denied him entry, detaining him on arrival in the country and deporting him.
In early 2011, Falk wrote in a blog posting about an “apparent cover up” over the 9/11 terror attacks, saying mainstream media were “unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events.”
Those comments prompted Rice to call for the first time for his removal from the HRC post.
Last October, she again did so after Falk in a report recommended that U.S. and other firms doing business in the disputed Mideast territories should be boycotted and face “legal and political” measures.
The U.N. leadership is evidently embarrassed by Falk’s stances – secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman said on April 24 he should understand that such comments “can undermine the credibility and the work of the United Nations.”
But at the same time the spokesman pointed out, not for the first time, that Falk was appointed not by Ban but by the HRC member states.
The HRC has several dozen “special rapporteurs” – reporter-investigators focused on a particular country situation or on a theme such as racism or extreme poverty.
U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer on Thursday took issue with the argument that appointees like Falk cannot be fired.
“The council has full plenary power to create and discontinue [special rapporteur] mandates and to appoint and remove mandate-holders,” he said. “Though it would be unprecedented to fire a council expert, the notion that the U.N. is powerless to remove any official, or terminate the position itself, is as false as it is nonsensical.”
The text calling for Falk’s mandate to be terminated was submitted to the HRC in the form of a written non-governmental organization statement, meaning it will appear on the council’s agenda.
For it to be taken up as an actual resolution and be voted on, it will need to be sponsored by an HRC member. U.N. Watch urged the U.S. and European members of the council to do so.