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UN Human Rights Envoy Expelled from Israel

Yesterday the UN’s special rapporteur for human Rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, was detained by Israeli border authorities, denied entry into Israel and subsequently expelled. While it is unfortunate that the UN is hindered in carrying out its observations and the expulsion is likely to be met with criticism, it is pertinent to make a few points. Over on Opino Juris, Julian Ku fittingly questions whether Falk is at all qualified to investigate alleged human rights violations. Furthermore, Falk’s well-know bias against the Israeli establishment begs the question whether he can at all be deemed an independent observer. On previous occasions, Falk has likened the Israeli occupation to the apartheid regime in South Africa as well as the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. On other occasions, he has likened the Israeli occupation to acts of genocide. Additionally, Falk has recently emerged as an advocate for bizarre 9/11 conspiracy theories. As noted, these points obviously call into question Falk’s independence as an investigator. But more importantly, and as noted by Kenneth Anderson, also on Opinio Juris, it likewise calls into the question the very institutions, NGOs and governments which supported Falk’s election as special rapporteur. 

7 Comments

  1. Guy Guy 16 December 2008

    An objective report, which shows both sides. Well done!

  2. Innocent Mawire Innocent Mawire 17 December 2008

    The attitude projected by the Israel government is the same as that of the Zimbabwean authorities who at one point barred the AU teams and a panel of Eminent persons led by Koffi Anan. It is a clear indication that rogue dictatorial regimes do not want to expose their insidious human rights records for fear of being prosecuted.
    I however agree that Falk’s neutrality as an investigator is also questionable but the issue remains to be seen whether the Israel authorities will allow any other investigator other than Falk

  3. Valentina Azarov Valentina Azarov 20 December 2008

    Although questioning whether the UN Rapporteur is qualified to investigate human rights violations is legitimate, in fact, there are a number of very demanding queries that arise out of such a claim that arguably should be addressed openly to the relevant UN agencies by officials from the Israeli government in accordance with the relevant procedures. This would require an organised consultation process to include all IGO and NGO that were party to and had a say in the selection and nomination process.
    This analytical issue that comes up in the process of the aftermath discussions following Falk’s expulsion should be highlighted. In other words, it should be recalled that this is a matter completely separate from the fact that when a UN Rapporteur is looking to realise his mission under the UN mandate, there are certain obligations that are imposed on the relevant state to facilitate his work.
    More over, Israel’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, cited what it called Falk’s “highly politicized views … legitimizing Hamas terrorism and drawing shameful comparisons to the Holocaust.” The statement said that Israel had “made clear that Mr. Falk was not invited, nor would be welcome in Israel, under his capacity as special rapporteur.” Falk told Human Rights Watch that Israeli Foreign Ministry officials were aware of his pending travel, had provided visas to his two assistants, and at no point indicated that they intended to deny him entry (as reported by HRW, available here: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/12/17/israel-reverse-expulsion-human-rights-rapporteur-0).
    It cannot be overlooked that the question of a “bias” is indeed an interesting and even relevant one in Falk’s case. However, as certain commentators have brought up, this is not a new occurrence, as there have been a number of UN appointed rapporteurs who could and have been accused of having a prejudiced approach to a particular region or situation.
    The UN has issued in the past a document outlining to states the guidelines for the treatment of regional Rapporteurs and the general etiquette on the UN institutional level is fairly clear-cut. In this light, the question that inevitably arises concerns the legal basis upon which Israel has decided to exercise a right to object to the entry of a UN official to its territory for the second time around, whilst having had the opportunity to bring up this issue through the relevant UN channels.
    Furthermore, it can be said that Israel would have done itself more good by admitting Falk’s entry this time around as it has been doing with the ‘Free Gaza’ boats that have been coming in through the Gaza Strip’s territorial waters and entering Gaza city for the fourth time last month. Although Israel openly asserts its control over the Strip’s territorial waters, it has numerously admitted their entrance with relatively little resistance. This is whilst concurrently continuing to tightly control and indiscriminately arrest Palestinian fishermen off the Gazan coast (see Reuters report here: http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-35167920080825?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0).

  4. the facts the facts 26 December 2008

    It’s worth noting that Israel has never barred the entry or movement of the previous rapporteur, Prof. John Dugard, who can hardly be called a supporter of Israel’s policy.

  5. Rizik Kapya Rizik Kapya 27 December 2008

    Online Museum of the Victims of War in the D.R. Congo that aims to expose the ongoing invisible unacceptable barbarity of the war that has killed more than 5 millions people to the outside world.

  6. Rizik Kapya Rizik Kapya 27 December 2008

    Online Museum of the Victims of War in the D.R. Congo that aims to expose the ongoing invisible unacceptable barbarity of the war that has killed more than 5 millions people to the outside world.
    The Mobilization of Justice and Peace in the D.R. Congo (MJPC) announced today the launch of phase one of its online museum of victims of the war in the D.R.Congo. According to the project coordinator of the MJPC, Amede Kyubwa, the online museum aims to expose this war, remaining virtually invisible to the outside world despite ongoing unacceptable barbarity, and aims to expose how innocent people in Congo continue to suffer massive human rights violations while armed groups responsible for these crimes go unpunished.
    The online museum, available at http://www.yoursilenceoncongo.org , is currently developing its collections policy and plan to determine the scope of the collections. “The museum will make particular use of collected images/photos of the war victims and help prevent similar catastrophes in the future,” said Mr. Kyubwa.
    As part of denouncing the serious war crimes going unpunished in Congo, MJPC recently launched a petition to collect signatures demanding the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUC) to immediately arrest the notorious war criminal Nkunda. Concerned citizens from around the world are signing the petition, including those from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the USA, Kenya, Rwanda, France, German, Denmark, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, Malawi, Burundi, Senegal, Nigeria, Spain, Japan, the UK, Venezuela, China, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Uganda. “There is no justification for MONUC, which has more than 17,000 troops in the DRC, to not take concrete actions to arrest Nkunda who is the subject of an international arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity since 2005,” added Mr. Kyubwa.
    The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo remains the deadliest conflict since World War II. More than 5 million people, mostly civilians, have died in the past decade, yet the war remains unknown. A particularly horrifying aspect of the conflict is the mass sexual violence being used as a weapon of war. Estimates are now at more than 1.3 million displaced people in North Kivu Province alone and there are more than 370,000 Congolese refugees who have sought safety in neighboring countries.
    According to Mr. Kyubwa, the online museum is also designed to dignify victims by recognizing their suffering and raise public awareness regarding the importance of an urgent intervention in the eastern Congo to stop the ongoing impunity, sexual violence, crimes against humanity, and war crimes and to bring those responsible to justice without further delay.

  7. Citizen477 Citizen477 2 January 2009

    Yes, Richard Falk’s intentions and affinities should be questioned. However, it seems to me that if a country or entity has no wrong-doings to hide, they would be apt to allow any observer into its midst. This expulsion further calls into question Israel’s motivations and intentions with Hamas and the wider Palestinian community.

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