(photo credit: Reuters)
At the Arab League’s request the United Nations Human Rights Council later today plans to replace its special investigator Richard Falk with British legal expert Christine Chinkin who helped author the controversial 2009 Goldstone Report on Gaza.
Late Thursday night UN Watch’s executive director Hillel Neuer leaked the document UNHRC President Baudelaire Ndong Ella intends to present to the council as it end its 25th session in Geneva by appointing 19 investigators late this afternoon.
Among those to be appointed is a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, now that Falk’s six-year term is ending.
Initially on Wednesday night Neuer reported that the UNHRC planned to appoint Indonesia diplomat Makarim Wibisono for the position based on information he had heard from diplomatic sources.
But, on Thursday, Neuer said it was clear from the UNHRC document that the council planned to appoint Chinkin. He said this appointment has the approval of the Arab League. “In the end the Arab states, following Ramallah's lead, only wanted Chinkin. “A proven, pro-Palestinian legal campaigner, in their view, will be far more effective to promote their global lawfare and BDS agenda than a Muslim diplomat,” Neuer said.
In February a UN consultive group composed of representatives from five member states evaluated 10 applications before fingering American legal expert Christina Cerna of Georgetown University as its leading candidate. The group explained that her candidacy had the appearance of neutrality because Cerna had not publicized her opinions on the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
Chinkin who had been vocal in support of the Palestinians was the consultive group’s second choice.
The UNHRC president, however, does not have to abide by the consultative group’s recommendations.
The Arab League has urged him in this case, to oppose Cerna candidacy claiming she lacked expertise and experience.
The League wrote a letter of complaint about Cerna to the UNHRC president and a second letter on Wednesday recommending Chinkin.
“She [Chinkin] clearly has the relevant experience and expertise: She is a leading professor of international law and a leading international lawyer who has experience working Palestine and on some of the most complex legal and political problems in the Middle East,” wrote Yemen’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ali Mohammed Majwar on behalf of the Arab Group at the Human Rights Council.
“She [Chinkin] has served as a member of the High-level Fact-finding missions to Beit Hanoun (2008) and a member of the united Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Gaza conflict (2009)," Majwar wrote.
“She is independent, impartial, objective and with strong personal integrity: Professor Chinkin’s reports to the Human Rights Council have consistently shown a high level of impartiality and objectivity by addressing violations from both parties, according to the provisions of International Law. It is also worth emphasizing that Professor Chinkin was the EU nominee for the Special Rapporteur position Professor Richard Falk,” Majwar wrote.
In the document UNHRC President Baudelaire Ndong Ella is expected to present later today, he endorses Chinkin in light of her experience in the field of human rights.
With regard to the 18 other special rapporteur positions listed in the document, he stated his appointment of Hilal Elvar of Turkey as Special Rapporteur on the right to food.
Neuer noted that Elvar is Richard Falk’s wife and like her husband, “has promoted the writings of the world's leading 9/11 conspiracy theorist, accused Israel of ‘genocide’ and ‘Water Apartheid,’ and systematically blames Western society for the world's ills, accusing America and Europe of Islamophobia and racism.” His organization UN Watch has called on the US to oppose both appointments before they are brought to the UNHRC plenary later in the day. It has also launched an online campaign urging those who oppose these appointments to write emails to US Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The UNHRC president may change his mind on both appointments if he knows the US opposes them, Neuer said.
“The U.S. -- if it is to live up to its pledge to use its UNHRC membership to fight bias, politicization and double standards -- must take the floor, call a vote, and vote No,” said Neuer.