United Nations General Assembly in New York.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The UN Watch NGO has demanded that the United Nations special investigator looking into alleged Israeli violations against Palestinians be suspended due to his ties to pro-Palestinian organizations.
In a letter to UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday, the Geneva-based monitoring group alleged that Michael Lynk failed to disclose “his leadership role in three pro-Palestinian organizations” when he applied for the position of special rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council.
The demand was issued hours before Lynk, a Canadian international law expert, presented a 26-page report on Israeli actions against Palestinians to the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee.
In it, he criticized the Jewish state for its actions in Gaza and the West Bank, particularly settlement building and what he termed “excessive use of force” against Palestinians.
“Without Israel’s settlement project, there would be no rationale for the continuing occupation,” Lynk wrote, adding that Israel has “obstructed the Palestinian right to self-determination” by building over the pre-1967 lines in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Israel should “end the practice of forcible transfer and the destruction of homes and property, including those of Palestinian Beduin communities,” he wrote.
UN Watch claims that Lynk was handed an “illegal appointment – made on the basis of Mr. Lynk’s false and misleading application, in which he failed to disclose his prejudicial commitments, statements and actions – as requested by Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion on March 25, 2016.”
His application to the position included a form which asks: “To your knowledge, does the candidate have any official, professional, personal or financial relationships
that might cause him/her to limit the extent of their inquiries, to limit disclosure or to weaken or slant findings in any way?” Lynk, in his own words, replied: “No. I have no official professional, personal or financial relationships that would limit the extent of my inquiries, or weaken or slant my findings.”
The form also asks if “there are any factors that could either directly or indirectly influence, pressure, threaten or otherwise affect the candidate’s ability to act independently in discharging his/her mandate?” To which Lynk answered: “ No, there are not.”
UN Watch cites the international body’s own bylaws
in making their assertion. “Under the rules of the council, as defined in resolution 5/1 and 16/21, the criteria of ‘impartiality’ and ‘objectivity’ are to be of paramount importance when selecting and appointing mandate- holders.
“Mr. Lynk fails the impartiality and objectivity test because of his long record of partisan statements, partisan positions and partisan campaigning on the Palestinian issue, as documented in detail by United Nations Watch in its report of March 10, 2016, entitled Mandate to Discriminate: Appointing the 2016-2022 UN Special Rapporteur on ‘Israel’s Violations of the Principles and Bases of International Law.”’ The statement says that Lynk was a member of the board of directors of the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations and claims that he was on the advisory board of the “Canadian- Palestinian Education Exchange,” which promotes events such as the “4th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week.”
UN Watch concluded by noting that Lynk was also “on the advisory board of Friends of Sabeel North America, another pro-Palestinian organization.”
It is unclear whether Lynk still plays a role in any of the groups listed in the complaint.
At a press conference in New York on Friday, Lynk responded to the UN Watch allegations and said he knew of no formal objections to his appointment that had been raised by the Canadian government, short of a tweet by the Foreign Minister that was sent out immediately after his appointment earlier this year.
“I can tell you that the organizations I belong to are entirely mainstream and legitimate organizations that frequently deal with the Canadian government,” Lynk said.
“My history with those organizations is not long, but all those organizations accept international consensus that there is an occupation and that settlements are illegal, and that collective punishment is a breach of the 4th Geneva Convention.
I would ask you to consider if UN Watch accepts any of the international consensus with respect to how to bring about a just and compassionate peace to the Middle East,” he added.