The European Union took a strong stand against United Nations Human Rights Council special rapporteur Richard Falk, denouncing as inaccurate and biased a report against Israel which he delivered to the body in Geneva on Monday.
“The EU continues to regret the unbalanced mandate of the Special Rapporteur and is also concerned that parts of the report include political considerations.
In the past, the EU emphasized that future reports should be based on a more factual and legal analysis, and we regret to see no genuine progress in that direction,” it said.
“The council needs to be provided with accurate, factual information and solid allegations to fulfill its role and address the human rights situation in occupied Palestinian territory,” the EU said.
Many of the country representatives who spoke at the session thanked Falk for his work and attacked Israel for refusing to cooperate with him as he examined its actions beyond the pre-1967 lines. In his report he attacked Israel’s actions in Gaza and called for a special investigatory committee into its treatment of Palestinian prisoners.
The United States and Canada did not speak during the session.
On Friday, the US called for Falk’s removal after he allotted a portion of his report to an attack on the Geneva-based non-governmental organization UN Watch.
Falk lashed out at UN Watch after it repeatedly called for his resignation in response to Falk’s controversial opinions, including one he wrote in the online Foreign Policy Journal in April in which he appeared to blame American global dominance for the Boston Marathon attack. In a blog post, Falk has explained that he had not meant for readers to make that link.
In the report he delivered to the UNHRC on Monday, Falk charged that UN Watch was a “pro-Israel lobbying organization” that has carried out a smear campaign against him and contacted UN officials and the secretary-general to have him removed.
UN Watch should be investigated to see if it qualifies as an independent organization and “is not indirectly sponsored by the Government of Israel and/or other “pro-Israel lobbying groups,” Falk wrote in his report.
Such “character assassination,” he said, is detrimental to his work because it diverts attention from the message to the messenger.
He also called on the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UNHRC to establish a mechanism to support special rapporteurs who are subject to defamatory attacks.
The United States Ambassador to the UNHRC Eileen Donahoe called on Friday for Falk’s resignation.
Falk’s attack on UN Watch threatens the independent voice of civil society at the UN, Donahoe said. NGO work is particularly important in the field of human rights, she added.
“Mr. Falk’s most recent statement – which he dramatically and recklessly included in an official UN document – is characteristic of previous reprehensible comments and actions he has made during his tenure as a special rapporteur,” Donahoe said.
“His views and behavior, both official and unofficial, are offensive and provocative and do nothing to advance peace in the Middle East or to further the protection and promotion of human rights. We again call for his resignation,” she added.
At the UNHRC debate on Falk’s report on Monday in Geneva, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer defended his organization, which he said was accurately reporting on Falk’s views.
He held up as an “Exhibit” a copy of a book by David Ray and referred to it as a “bible for those who blame America, instead of al-Qaida, for the 9/11 attacks.
“Do you deny that this is your name on the front cover, praising the author’s ‘fortitude,’ ‘courage,’ and ‘intelligence’?” Neuer inquired of Falk.
Neuer asked Falk whether he understood why UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon had said that his remarks on 9/11 were “preposterous” and an “affront” to the 3,000 victims of the attack.
He explained that the British Foreign Office has accused Falk of racism, and noted that according to Wikileaks, a Palestinian delegate to the council had called for Falk to step down.