The United Nations is “siding too much with Israel” and “failing to take account of the violation of Palestinian human rights”.
(Channel 4 News, 15 October 2007.)
That's the considered opinion of leading UN human rights envoy Professor John Dugard.
Dugard believes that the Middle East Quartet (the US, European Union, Russia and the UN) has “ignored the human rights aspect of the dispute”, and that at the forthcoming 'peace conference' in the US “full attention should be given to” the illegalities of the Wall, West Bank settlements, military checkpoints and continuing incursions.
Dugard alleges that “the UN is no longer seen as an impartial and even-handed mediator in the dispute” and that “by siding too much with Israel and by failing to take account of the violation of Palestinian human rights, the United Nations has lost that image of impartiality.”
He further declares that the UN's participation in the Quartet is merely serving to disguise the latter's pro-Israeli agenda, and that the UN's own 'integrity' is being compromised in the process: “There's no doubt that the United Nations is being used to legitimise the Quartet and if that is its sole purpose, I believe the United Nations should reconsider its position.”
Elsewhere, the UN Human Rights Council's Israeli-Palestinian investigator said that there must be real "considerations of fairness" behind the work of the Quartet.
Dugard now proposes to write to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging that the UN withdraw from the Quartet until it demonstrates a meaningful resolve to observe and defend Palestinian human rights.
It's another damning indictment of the UN's back-room adherence to US foreign policy, and all the more biting as it comes from a key UN insider. I'm reminded here of how former UN humanitarian envoy to Iraq, Denis Halliday, resigned in protest at the UN's failure to challenge the West's murderous sanctions policy in Iraq.
Professor Dugard's admirable disclosures also give indication of the UN's slavish appointment of Tony Blair as their Quartet envoy. In the Channel 4 News interview with Dugard, Jon Snow repeated media reports which claimed that Blair “has expressed shock and surprise at some of the damage that has been done to the Palestinian territories by the wall.” Snow asked Dugard: “Do you think that, perhaps, the West is at last waking up to what's going on over there?” Dugan replied: “Well, I'm surprised that Mr Blair was not aware of this when he was prime minister...after all there was a 2004 decision/advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice holding that the construction of the wall is illegal, and Mr Blair distanced himself from that finding.”
Dugard's comments on the UN's co-opted participation in the Quartet is yet more proof of its ongoing genuflection to the US. How can a body which declared Blair's actions over Iraq illegal now consider him a 'dove' to be sent to the Middle East? As they say, you couldn't make it up.
We should pay very close attention to what Professor Dugard is saying here. For his words contain a prescient message of what kind of placatory offerings are being hatched for the upcoming talks. Blair may be, apparently, "shocked" by what he's seen in the West Bank. But not shocked enough to call for the complete removal of the West Bank settlements and deconstruction of the Apartheid Wall. Rather, his real task, as implicitly exposed by Dugard, is to help sell an Israeli-US defined 'peace package', with all of Olmert's substantive demands realised.
Again, Dugard sees all-too-clearly the stark imbalance of such priorities in his reminder that Palestinian human rights must be the determining issue for any just and peaceful settlement. Despite the recent Abbas-Olmert meetings and Rice's affirmations that the US “mean business” this time, it's clear that another post-Oslo stitch-up is in the offing. And, of course, how can there be any legitimate deal at Annapolis without the presence of Hamas, the democratically-elected administration? That would have been like excluding Sinn Fein or the ANC from the political table in Northern Ireland and South Africa.
As the Quartet and an obedient media play-along with Rice's "time for a Palestinian state" charade, it's heartening to see and hear this kind of truthful insight and moral statement on the real processes of Western-UN 'diplomacy'.