Category Archives: UN

The UN’s War on Israel

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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. It was intended to be a temple of peace, but this once great global body has been overrun by the repressive regimes that violate human rights and undermine international security.

In 1949, when the United Nations admitted Israel as a member state, it had 58 member countries and about half had a democratic orientation. Today, the landscape of the organization has changed drastically. From 51 member states at its founding in 1945, the institution has grown to 193 members — fewer than half of which are democracies.

The very nations that deny democratic rights to their people abuse the United Nations’ democratic forums to advance their interests. The largest of these groups comprises members from the 120-member-strong bloc known as the Non-Aligned Movement. Since 2012, the bloc has been chaired by Iran, which has used its position to bolster its allies and marginalize Israel.

In March, the United Nations closed the annual meeting of its Commission on the Status of Women by publishing a report that effectively singled out just one country for condemnation: Israel. The commission apparently had nothing to say about the Sudanese girls who are subjected to female genital mutilation. It also had nothing to say about the Iranian women who have been punished for crimes of “adultery” by stoning. These oversights may have something to do with the fact that both Iran and Sudan sit on the 45-member commission.

Then there is the United Nations Human Rights Council (the body that replaced the Commission on Human Rights in 2006). Its membership includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela — nations where you risk life and liberty if you express dissenting opinions. Yet these governments stand in judgment on the rest of us.

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In 2007, Sudan chaired a committee overseeing human rights — even as its president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, was being investigated for crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, for which the International Criminal Court later issued arrest warrants. Saudi Arabia — a regime notorious for public executions and floggings like that, most recently, of the blogger Raif Badawi — sits on the Human Rights Council, despite regularly receiving the worst possible ratings on civil liberties and political rights from the independent watchdog Freedom House.

In 2013, Iran was elected to the committee responsible for disarmament — even as it continued its nuclear expansion, support for terrorism and the destruction of Israel. Last year, an Iranian served as a vice chair of the General Assembly’s legal committee, an inexplicable choice given that Iranian citizens are routinely denied due process and fair trials.

Knowing this history, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that, in the 2014-15 session alone, the General Assembly adopted about 20 resolutions critical of Israel, while the human rights situations in Iran, Syria and North Korea merited just one condemnation apiece. Day after day, member states turn a blind eye to the most deplorable crimes.

Iran? Just one hostile resolution for a nation that, on average, executes citizens at a rate of two a day for “crimes” that include homosexuality, apostasy and the vague offense of being an “enemy of God.”

North Korea? Just one negative resolution even though it has imprisoned more than 200,000 citizens, throws children into forced labor camps and subjects its population to food shortages and famine as a result of government policies.

Syria? Again, just one resolution for a government that has pursued a war against its own people that has caused the deaths of at least 220,000 men, women and children — many by torture, starvation, chemical weapons and barrel bombs dropped on markets and schools.

Christians now number among the world’s most persecuted religious groups in Muslim countries, yet this human rights crisis is almost completely ignored by the United Nations. Instead, Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and an area in the region where the Christian population is actually growing, often seems to be the only nation the United Nations cares about.

Nowhere is anti-Israel bias more obvious than in the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. The council addresses the human rights abuses of all countries in the world under a program known as Agenda Item 4. That is, all countries but one. Israel is the only nation that is singled out for criticism by virtue of a special program, known as Agenda Item 7. A result, according to the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch, is that more than 50 percent of all condemnatory resolutions are directed at the Jewish state.

Following last summer’s conflict in Gaza, the Human Rights Council established a Commission of Inquiry and selected William Schabas, a Canadian law professor, to chair the investigation. In February, Mr. Schabas was forced to resign after documents came to light revealing that, in 2012, he had done consulting work for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Surprisingly, this fact slipped Mr. Schabas’s mind during his vetting process.

It was clear from the outset that Mr. Schabas was not an impartial arbiter since he had a record of public statements suggesting that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the former president, Shimon Peres, should face trial at the International Criminal Court. When Israel protested, however, the United Nations ignored it.

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I am often asked how I can stand the tide of hatred aimed at Israel. Our response to the United Nations’ accusations is to speak tirelessly for those who are denied a voice in most of the Middle East — women, minorities, the L.G.B.T. community — and to fight daily efforts by totalitarian regimes to undermine democratic societies. Based on the fact that Israel is a thriving society, I believe we are winning.

Later this year, chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement will transfer to Venezuela, Iran’s ally. For the foreseeable future, we can expect more of the same.

The problem with the United Nations is that the leaders of many of its member states do not rule with the consent of the governed. Instead, they use the body as a forum to deflect attention from their own ruthless rule. In so doing, they turn a stage for courageous statecraft into a tragic theater of the absurd.

Ron Prosor is Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.

UN Security Council Allows Iran a Free Hand in Yemen

 

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The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday March 22nd regarding the rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen. It heard a briefing from Jamal Benomar, the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, describing Yemen’s descent towards a possible sectarian civil war. It then issued a presidential statement on behalf of all fifteen members that, in essence, told all parties to the conflict to behave, stop the violence, engage in peaceful political dialogue and obey past Security Council resolutions calling for the same thing. However, once again, the Security Council demonstrated its incapacity to deal truthfully and effectively with a crisis that has potentially far-reaching geopolitical significance.

The Security Council presidential statement ritualistically called on all member states to refrain from external interference in Yemen’s affairs and reaffirmed its readiness to take further measures against any party in case of non-implementation of its prior resolutions on Yemen. However, the Security Council did not call out Iran specifically for its funding, training and arming of its Shiite Houthi allies, whom have continued to occupy government institutions in Yemen’s capital, threatened the duly elected president and his ministers, and expanded militarily into other areas of Yemen outside of the capital.

It is not as if Iran’s disruptive intervention in Yemen to expand its own sphere of influence is a secret. Iranian senior officials openly brag about it.

In January, Iranian Brigadier General Baqir Zada said that the “Houthis victory in Yemen” represented “a historic victory for the Iranian Islamic revolution.”

Also in January, Hojatoleslam (a Shiite clerical rank just below that of ayatollah) Ali Shirazi, representative of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, said, “Hezbollah was formed in Lebanon as a popular force like Basij (Iran’s militia). Similarly popular forces were also formed in Syria and Iraq, and today we are watching the formation of Ansarollah in Yemen.”

In February, Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, boasted: “We are witnessing the export of the Islamic revolution throughout the region. From Bahrain and Iraq to Syria, Yemen and North Africa.”

The Security Council’s public silence regarding Iran’s admitted active role in destabilizing Yemen as part of fulfilling its hegemonic ambitions is as deafening as it is revealing. At this delicate point in its nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Obama administration and its allies do not want to do anything at the UN Security Council that might upset Iran and cause it to back away from a possible deal.

Consider the fact that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, issued her own statement condemning the Houthis, but that she too left out any mention of Iran. Ambassador Power said that “the Houthis’ actions – taken in close collaboration with former President Ali Abdullah Salih – have consistently undermined Yemen’s transition.” Ambassador Power referred to “a series of violent actions perpetrated by the Houthis since they chose to overrun Sana’a, take over government institutions, and attempt to govern by unilateral decree.” She added that “all parties must refrain from any further unilateral and offensive military actions.” Unmentioned was the identity of the state party fueling the Houthis’ perpetration of violence – the same terrorist sponsoring state that the Obama administration is feverishly negotiating with to reach a nuclear deal by the end of this month.

Only the Yemeni representative had the guts to call out the elephant in the room. He implored the Security Council to “curb the drums of war” propagated by the promotors of the coup, fuelled by “Iranian ambitions” in Yemen.

Closed consultations among Security Council members followed the public briefing. A senior Western delegate told me that Iran’s involvement in the Yemen conflict did come up during the closed consultations. However, there was evidently no discussion on what steps might be taken to enforce prior Security Council resolutions vis a vis Iran’s role. There are prior Security Council resolutions related to Yemen that could be used, including Resolution 2140 (2014), extended until at least next year. Resolution 2140 had set up a mechanism for identifying and sanctioning individuals and entities responsible for, among other things, “providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen.”

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Yet Iran has escaped even the slightest slap on the wrist for its continued shipment of arms to its Houthi allies in Yemen, which is going on as the UN continues to spin its wheels rather than act. According to a March 21, 2015 report by StrategyWorld.com, for example, “An Iranian freighter recently docked at Yemen’s second largest port (al Saleef) and unloaded 185 tons of weapons and military equipment.”

More disturbing is the fact that, aside from the specific resolution regarding Yemen, the Security Council already has a ready-made vehicle to enforce against Iran but is ignoring it. Iran is openly violating a 2007 UN Security Council resolution that imposed an embargo on arms exports from Iran along with other constraints on Iranian arms imports. This and other resolutions, which Iran is seeking to have rescinded as quickly as possible as part of a negotiated nuclear deal, were passed as the foundation for declaring Iran’s nuclear program to be illegal and punishing Iran for its continued intransigence.

Security Council Resolution 1747 (2007) stated that “Iran shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft any arms or related materiel, and that all States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran.”

In a statement after the vote on that 2007 resolution, the U.S. representative reminded the world of “Iran’s continued well-known role as one of the world’s leading State sponsors of terrorism.”

The Iranian regime has not changed its stripes. In fact, it has gotten even worse. By its own admission, it is actively expanding its reach in the Middle East and beyond, and it is using more terrorist proxies on the Hezbollah model. Yet the Obama administration, in its attempt to whitewash Iran’s association with terrorism, actually removed Iran from the list of terrorist threats in the most recent Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community report published on February 26, 2015.

The Obama administration is also reportedly considering offering Iran a phased lifting of the UN sanctions as Iran complies with specified milestones. Not that it makes any real difference, given Iran’s flouting of Resolution 1747 and other Security Council resolutions related to its nuclear program, but lifting of the UN sanctions could potentially spill over into relaxing the embargo on Iran’s export of arms. And that would give Iran even more of a sense of international legitimacy in arming its proxies such as the Houthis.

The French, who are participating in the nuclear negotiations with Iran, are not in such a hurry to compromise on the UN sanctions. They want the Iranians to come clean on the past work they have done on nuclear warhead development before UN sanctions can begin being lifted. The Iranians are reportedly refusing to cooperate, as they continue to stonewall UN inspectors whom have been seeking information on Iran’s past military dimensions of their nuclear program. U.S. diplomats are for all intents and purposes running interference for Iran, trying to convince France not to worry so much about any past Iranian work on nuclear warhead development right now. In their zeal for a deal, Obama’s negotiators are willing to overlook any evidence of Iranian deception and stonewalling.

The UN Security Council’s inaction against Iran regarding its blatant arming, training and funding of the Houthis in Yemen, in violation of a prior Security Council resolution, is no accident. It is in keeping with the Obama administration’s own reluctance to offend Iran on any issue that might get in the way of completing a nuclear deal with the pre-eminent global state sponsor of jihadist terrorism.