|Key people||Alfred H. Moses, Chair;
Per Ahlmark, David A. Harris, Co-Chairs;
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director
|Method||United Nations, Human rights and struggle against anti-Semitism|
|Motto||"Monitoring the United Nations, Promoting Human Rights"|
|Website||UN Watch Homepage|
|Part of a series on|
Part of Jewish history
UN Watch is a Geneva-based NGO whose stated mission is "to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter". UN watch states that it "participates actively at the UN as an accredited NGO in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI)." It is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee and sponsored by the World Jewish Congress.
Since the creation of UN Watch, "much of its efforts has focused on monitoring the continuing discriminatory treatment of Israel in the UN system and attitudes toward Jews in the world body, as well as those matters which concern American interests."
Moreover, UN Watch "has also tackled such issues as reform, gender equality, protection of religious liberty, and promotion of tolerance." It has been active in combating perceived human rights abuses in Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur, perceived anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiment in the UN, and monitoring the qualifications of candidate countries to United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) elections. It has been a strong critic of the UNHRC, asserting that many of its members have poor human rights records themselves.
UN Watch was founded in 1993 under the chairmanship of Morris Berthold Abram. Abram served as the Chairman of the United Negro College Fund and President of Brandeis University. Abram was active in community affairs as President of the American Jewish Committee (1963–1968); Chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (1983–1988); and Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (1986–1989).
Abram supported the UN as an institution. In 1999, Abram delivered a speech to the U.S. Congress on the subject of the treatment of Israel by the United Nations in which he said "UN Watch categorically supports the UN as an indispensable institution. The US should pay its past dues to the UN as a matter of national honor and in recognition of the UN's importance. In spite of the UN's flaws, it is inconceivable that the US withhold support from the only truly global organization in such an interdependent world."
Structure and status
UN Watch participates at the UN as an accredited NGO in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI). It is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee.
UN Watch has participated in the following UN activities: the Commission on Human Rights, a Panel Discussion on the United Nations and the Middle East, a Panel Discussion on Proposals to Reform the Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Working Group on Minorities. A UN Watch seminar in Geneva featured a tour of the Palais des Nations, a visit to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, and attendance at a meeting of the Committee Against Torture (CAT) with briefings from the Committee's Vice Chair.
In October 2008, UNHCR listed the organization as having a staff of six. UN Watch had 110 members in 2007, geographically distributed as follows: 56% from Europe, 38% from North America, and 4% from Oceania. UN Watch’s newsletter on UN issues now reaches nearly 5,000 subscribers around the world.
Commentary from the group has appeared in BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters, Washington Post, Agence France-Presse, Voice of America, The Jerusalem Post, Fox News, JTA, and others.
Board and funding
Current board members include:
- Alfred H. Moses, Attorney, former United States Ambassador to Romania and Presidential Emissary for the Cyprus Conflict, Special Counsel to President Jimmy Carter. Former American Jewish Committee president.
- Per Ahlmark, former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden
- Irwin Cotler, international human rights advocate, Canadian Member of Parliament since 1993, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, known as "Counsel for the Oppressed"
- David A. Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee
- Max Jakobson, former Finnish Ambassador to the United Nations
- Ruth Wedgwood, Professor of International Law and Diplomacy, Johns Hopkins University
UN Watch is funded by private individual donations and charitable foundations.
Partnership with American Jewish Committee
Since 2001, UN Watch is a "fully integrated partner of the American Jewish Committee".
As the former President of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Bruce M. Ramer, stated: "Our partnership with UN Watch is a natural extension of the American Jewish Committee’s long-standing involvement with the United Nations from its founding and concern for Israel’s place in the international community."
As the ACJ stresses the "reach and activities of UN Watch evolved in conjunction with the expansion of the American Jewish Committee’s international diplomatic programs during the past decade."
Positions and activities
In 2008, the post of United Nations special rapporteur for the Congo was eliminated by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The elimination was done with the support of Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Russia and other countries, following a request by the Congolese administration of President Joseph Kabila. According to a subsequent report prepared by the office of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, both government and rebel forces proceeded to carry out mass killings, rape and torture. In November of that year, UN Watch called on the UNHRC to apologize for abolishing the post, and stated that the UNHRC should be held to account for the move, given the atrocities people there were enduring. UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer said in a statement, "Morally, those countries (on the Council) who were behind the elimination of the monitoring mandate in March ought now to apologise to the victims of Congo... We will never know how many lives could have been saved if the Council, deferring to Congo's government, had not caused this unconscionable protection gap which slashed an early-warning mechanism just when the victims needed it most." Other rights groups called for the re-establishment of the post.
On 1 December 2009, following atrocities in the eastern Congolese province of North Kivu, the UNHRC condemned abuses against civilians in Congo. UN Watch said it was hoping to see a reassignment of a UN rights expert to the region, and said abuses "making eastern Congo a living hell" needed to be properly investigated. UN Watch said a total of 50 groupings had signed the appeal to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and human rights chief Navi Pillay, asking to restore the post of UN rights monitor there.
On 27 April 2008, UN Watch joined human rights organizations around the world in launching a "Justice for Darfur" campaign. The organizations behind the campaign included Amnesty International, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch. The campaign called on the United Nations Security Council, regional organizations and national governments to pressure Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and to arrest suspected war criminals Ali Kushayb and Ahmad Harun. The Sudanese government had refused to surrender either suspect to the Court, and had in fact promoted Harun to the position of State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs.
UN Watch commended the US, France and other democracies for their “forceful criticism” of Iran’s human rights record at a UN hearing in Geneva's UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in February 2010. At the same time, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer cautioned that the outcome of the council session could be limited to a “toothless” report to be adopted.
In the wake of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, the UN Human Rights Council's 47 members unanimously passed a resolution that expressed concern about rights abuses in the wake of the quake and urged the government and aid groups to protect children from violence and exploitation. UN Watch slammed the UN Human Rights Council's two-day special session on Haiti as "a harmful waste of the organization's precious time, resources, and moral capital," adding that the council "has no budget, authority or expertise on humanitarian aid" and "ignores more pressing human rights problems".
Following Switzerland’s 2009 vote to ban minarets, UN Watch stated that it was particularly embarrassed by the fact and that it will work toward its repeal. The NGO's director Hillel Neuer said that banning of Muslim structures by a government is wrongful discrimination.
Along with Freedom House, UN Watch has opposed the candidacies of states with poor human rights records for the United Nations Human Rights Council. The 2006 UN resolution establishing the council requires that, in electing states to the panel, UN member states "shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights."
In May 2007, UN Watch and Freedom House submitted a joint report on an election to the United Nations Human Rights Council, stating that candidates Angola, Belarus, Egypt and Qatar were unfit to sit on the human rights body, because they themselves violated rights. The report said that the four countries "are authoritarian regimes with negative UN voting records (on rights issues) and are not qualified to be Council members". The report further described candidates Slovenia, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands as "well qualified" for the Council, and called candidates Bolivia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nicaragua, the Philippines and South Africa as "questionable".
In May 2008, UN Watch and Freedom House called on the UN General Assembly to vote against candidates Bahrain, Gabon, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zambia for poor human rights records. According to Human Rights Watch, Sri Lanka's candidacy was also opposed by a coalition of more than 20 nongovernmental organizations around the world, as well as three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina.
In May 2009, UN Watch and Freedom House again submitted a joint report on a UNHRC election. The report described candidates China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia as "the worst of the worst" in terms of human rights. The report also described candidates Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Djibouti and Russia as "not qualified", and Bangladesh, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria and Senegal as "questionable". UN Watch and Freedom House described the council's record for its first three years as poor. They stated that Islamic countries with Cuban support rewrote rules for a freedom of expression monitor in a manner that limits expression, and that an "alliance of regressive regimes" succeeded in having the Council cancel human rights investigators for trouble spots such as Belarus, Cuba, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur. In contrast, they said, the alliance led to the council appointing an investigator who was involved in founding a controversial human rights prize in honor of Muammar al-Gaddafi and another who believes that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job. Hillel Neuer said, "The vision had been that the council would be a voice for victims, but it is now in a state of crisis."
UN Watch expressed alarm over a report that Asian countries might facilitate Iran’s election in May 2010 to the 47-member UNHRC.
UN Watch is credited with leading the campaign to deny Syria's bid for a seat.
Durban Review Conference
On 19 April 2009, the day before the UN Durban Review Conference, UN Watch and other non-governmental organizations hosted the "Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy," in order to raise public awareness to the issues of discrimination and racially-motivated torture. Invited speakers included survivors of the genocide in Rwanda and former dissidents from Iran, Cuba and Myanmar. UN Watch also hosted a "Conference Against Racism, Discrimination, and Persecution" in Geneva. Speakers at the latter conference included former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy and former Miss Canada and President of Stop Child Executions Nazanin Afshin Jam.
UN Watch submitted a 29-page legal petition to the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict requesting the recusal of member Christine Chinkin because she was one of 31 academics and lawyers who had co-signed a letter published in the Sunday Times before being selected for the mission that accused Israel of not complying with international humanitarian and human rights law. The letter described Israel's military offensive in Gaza as "an act of aggression", stating that "invasion and bombardment of Gaza amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.5m inhabitants contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law", and adding that "the blockade of humanitarian relief, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and preventing access to basic necessities such as food and fuel, are prima facie war crimes". UN Watch stated that, since Chinkin had already formed and expressed a judgment on the very issues the Mission was meant to investigate, she could not fulfill the impartiality requirement for fact-finding missions. The petition cites authorities of international law, including a 2004 precedent of the international tribunal for Sierra Leone, in which Justice Geoffrey Robertson was disqualified by his fellow judges over the appearance of bias.
The UN Watch request was covered by the Deutsche Presse Agentur and the Khaleej Times and Agence France Presse. UN Watch further noted that in a May 2009 meeting with Geneva NGOs, Chinkin denied that her impartiality was compromised, saying that her statement only addressed jus ad bellum, and not jus in bello; however, according to UN Watch, the statement not only determined that "Israel’s actions amount to aggression, not self-defence," but additionally charged that they were "contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law," and constituted "prima facie war crimes."
The inquiry members rejected the petition and said that the mission investigated whether Israel, Hamas or the Palestinian Authority had unnecessarily caused death or injury to innocent civilians by specific acts of armed conflict that violated international humanitarian law and international human rights law stating "On those issues the letter co-signed by Professor Chinkin expressed no view at all." The members further wrote in their reply that the fact-finding mission cannot be considered a judicial or even a quasi-judicial proceeding. Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch, said that the arguments raised by the mission ignored the well-established set of standards to international fact-finding missions. Goldstone said that the letter signed by Chinkin could have been the grounds for disqualification, had the mission been a judicial inquiry. Two groups, a group of UK lawyers and academics and a group of Canadian lawyers from prominent law firms and human rights organizations, pronounced separately their support for the UN Watch request that Prof. Chinkin be disqualified from the United Nations Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict and expressed their disappointment that the well-founded request was rejected by the mission. Chinkin's prior statements, the lawyers wrote, "necessarily compromises the integrity of this inquiry and its report".
The Goldstone Report concluded that the Gaza police forces were a civilian police force and "cannot be said to have been taking a direct part in hostilities and thus did not lose their civilian immunity from direct attack as civilians". The report did not "rule out the possibility that there might be individuals in the police force who retain their links to the armed groups" but finds no evidence that the police were part of the Gaza armed forces and that it "could not verify the allegations of membership of armed groups of policemen." UN Watch noted that on this matter the Goldstone Report relied on the testimony of the Gaza police spokesperson Islam Shahwan, whose credibility had been compromised by previous claim that Israel had been targeting the Palestinian population in Gaza by distributing libido-increasing chewing gum, and the mission accepted the interpretation of Shahwan's own words "face the enemy" as meaning "distributing food stuffs".
The mission report stated that in July 2009 it received, through UN Watch, an official preliminary report of the Israeli Government entitled "The operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects", which outlined the government of Israel’s position on many issues. Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of the UN Watch, charged that the report misrepresented his correspondence with mission chief Richard Goldstone and that he merely sent Goldstone a link to the report published online. Neuer posted a correspondence with the UN and Goldstone on the UN Watch blog to confirm his words. The group further commented that "Israeli public figures who say their country would have benefited by cooperating with the UN Human Rights Council’s 'fact-finding' mission on the Gaza conflict are mistaken", because "Israel’s detailed facts and legal arguments [presented in the Israeli Government report] were either ignored, or summarily dismissed".
Perceived UN anti-Israel bias and antisemitism
UN Watch is active at the UN in combating perceived anti-Israel and anti-Semitism, and what it calls the selective and politicized treatment of Israel by many UN bodies. The group supported former Secretary General Kofi Annan's declared goal of ending the UN's perceived imbalanced treatment of Israel and has been highly critical of the United Nations Human Rights Council, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency has described U.N. Watch as a pro-Israel organization.
Claudia Rosett quoted UN Watch's director Hillel Neuer who said that since the UN Human Rights Council was launched in mid-2006 and until the beginning of 2010, it issued 33 condemnatory resolutions; of these, half a dozen have concerned Burma and North Korea, while the other 27 have focused on condemning Israel, while absolving its attackers, including the Iranian-backed militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
UN Watch & YMCA Sexual Exploitation Campaign (2006)
UN Watch, the World YWCA, and the World Alliance of YMCAs published a statement against sexual exploitation and child pornography. "Today far too many children are sexually exploited and abused causing life-long damage. More than two million children are exploited in the multibillion-dollar sex industry each year and 1.2 million children are trafficked annually", the statement said.
UN Disarmament Conference
Hillel Neuer said in a statement that the selection of Iran as the chair of the U.N. Disarmament Conference "is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women's shelter."
Campaigns against Individuals
Critique of Medal of Freedom Award to Mary Robinson (2009)
The conferral of the award to Robinson generated a mix of responses. John R. Bolton, a former US Ambassador to the United Nations, opined she should not receive the award due to her opposition to "the security or national interests of the United States". Nancy Rubin, a former US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, said Robinson "highlighted the rights of women and children and promoted monitoring and reporting throughout the world" and commented that "as a Jewish American who affirms that defending the human rights of all is a basic tenant of my faith, I wholeheartedly endorse your recognition of Mary Robinson for the narrative of her life." United States Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, United States Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, and Congressman Michael McMahon of New York welcomed the presenting of the award to Robinson. Forty-five Republican Congressmen sent a letter to President Obama asking him not to confer the award on Robinson, citing "her failed, biased record as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights". Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel of New York separately called the award "a mistake."
Robinson asserted that in opposing the conferral "certain elements" of the Jewish community had put forward "totally without foundation" allegations in opposition to her receiving the award.
In an open letter response to Robinson's comments, Hillel Neuer of UN Watch rejected her claims and criticized her role in the 2001 Durban Conference, stating: "Leadership means taking responsibility. During the march to Durban you could have confronted the purveyors of anti-Israel hatred from the start. Instead, you chose to egg them on, only to have it explode in your face—by which time your protestations were simply too little and too late. You may not have been the chief culprit of the Durban debacle, but you will always be its preeminent symbol."
In the same letter, the Executive Director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, continued criticizing the work of Mary Robinson during her work for the UN, stating: "But the concerns about your actions on the Middle East are not limited to Durban. They extend to your entire 5-year tenure as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. (...) To be sure, some of your critics, while getting the big picture right, have helped you make this case by conflating your former office with that of the Commission and its resolutions condoning Palestinian terrorism."
Hillel Neuer continued: "Regrettably, however, when it came to Israel, you effectively encouraged the Commission’s anti-Israel obsession—an obsession that epitomized the politicization and selectivity that ultimately doomed the now-defunct body."
Finally, addressed to Mary Robinson personally, Hillel Neuer concluded: "Your support of one-sided U.N. measures only encouraged Palestinian extremists, deterred Israelis from trusting international institutions, and promoted the futile path of feel-good unilateral censure, instead of the necessary path of dialogue and reconciliation."
Campaign against U.N. Human Rights Council appointment of Alfred De Zayas (2012)
In December 2012, UN Watch initiated a campaign against U.N. Human Rights Council appointment of Alfred De Zayas.
Under the slogan "Remove Holocaust Deniers' Hero from U.N.", UN Watch called on the public to take action and urge U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice (US Permanent Representative to the United Nations) to speak out against Alfred De Zayas.
UN Watch argued that the books of Alfred De Zayas "on World War II portray Germans as victims and the Allies as perpetrators of 'genocide'". The organization claimed that "De Zayas is a hero to Holocaust deniers, and is featured on many of their websites. He calls for Israel to be expelled from the U.N., and defends the murderous Iranian regime."
Subsequently, UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, upheld that "Alfred de Zayas distorts history to defend ordinary Germans from any role in the Holocaust." Neuer clarified "De Zayas is not a Holocaust denier. But he is a hero to them." As a reason, Neuer stressed that publications and lectures of Alfred de Zayas "are promoted on websites such as 'Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust'.
Moreover, Neuer stated that "De Zayas hates the Jewish state. Israel, he says, “emerged out of terrorism against the indigenous population,” remains “privileged on the international scene” and its representatives should be denied UN accreditation."
Neuer also claimed that "Scholars criticize his work as shoddy and revisionist. According to a 1993 German Studies Review article, De Zayas 'makes no attempt to integrate his work with that of existing historiography on World War II, Nazi Germany or war crimes in general.'"
In response, several comments on UN Watch's Facebook site offered another site of the story, under the profile of Alfred Maurice De Zayas it was argued that "UN Watch is doing a disservice to its readers by engaging in blatant des-information. Professor de Zayas has published 9 books which have been brilliantly reviewed among others in the American Journal of International Law, Human Rights Quarterly, Cambridge Law Journal, Revue Generale de Droit International, Netherlands International Law Review, Times Educational Supplement, Die Zeit, Neue Zürcher Zeitung etc. UN Watch has gone all out to find a few negative reviews -- in unimportant journals, written by unimportant persons. The reviewer Rainer Ohliger is not a professor nor does he have a doctorate, the Frankfurter Rundschau has gone out of business, Wolfgang Wippermann has no credibility. Here a couple of reviews of de Zayas "Nemesis at Potsdam" which is now in its 14th revised edition, with a preface by the late US Undersecretary of State and political adviser of Eisenhower, Robert Murphy. By the way, de Zayas' books are published by reputable publishers including Palgrave/Macmillan, St. Martin's Press, Routledge, University of Nebraska Press, C.H.Beck, dtv, Ullstein, Kohlhammer, N.P. Engel, etc."
Under the profile of Alfred Maurice De Zayas it was further argued that: ""UN Watch is not delivering the goods. Professor de Zayas is a Harvard lawyer with a second doctorate in history and his books have been published by Palgrave/Macmillan, St. Martin's Press, Routledge and other very reputable publishers. 90% of the reviews are positive. UN Watch is manipulating you and other readersby giving you a skewed picture. See some 150 positive reviews - by prominent Jews like Benjamin Ferencz, Alfred Rubin, David Rubin and Howard Levie. (...) See also the excellent review of his book on the Shoah in Hebrew University's Genocide Prevention Now, published by Professor Isarel Charny (http://www.genocidepreventionnow.org/GPNSearchResults/tabid/64/ctl/DisplayArticle/mid/400/aid/392/Default.aspx). De Zayas is independent. He does not discriminate against Israel, but he does recognize that the Palestinians also have human rights. "
Alfred Maurice De Zayas argued that UN Watch is giving "5% of the facts and lots of paranoid suspicions."
Several quotes in support of De Zayas were quoted:
- "His is a lucid, scholarly and compassionate study. Most pertinently he insists that we deny what the lesser histories conspire with us to invent - that there are stopping places in history." Tony Howarth, Times Educational Supplement. 22 April 1977, p. 495.
- "The author, effectively using maps and photographs, traces the history of the expellees. Aided by Marshall Plan funds the millions of displaced persons, still longing for their homelands, recognized the futility of resort to force and turned to hard work to rebuild their lives by absorption in a democratic and peaceful society. The Helsinki Conference of 1975 in effect acknowledged that the provisional Oder-Neisse demarcation line implied de facto annexation. The lesson from this well organized and moving historical record is not merely that retribution which penalizes innocent human beings becomes injustice, but that acceptance of political realities may be a better road to human fulfillment than the path of violence. Alfred de Zayas has written a persuasive commentary on the suffering which becomes inevitable when humanitarianism is subordinated to nationalism." Ben Ferencz in the American Journal of International Law, Vol. 72, October 1978, p. 960.
- "De Zayas writes with sympathy for the refugees and moral indignation over what he, as an international lawyer, concludes was another crime against humanity, but he strives to show how Allied decisions regarding postwar Germany were the product of many factors, such as horror over Nazi atrocities, the passions of war and victory, and considerable ignorance on the part of Anglo-American leaders regarding the actual state of affairs in Central and Eastern Europe". Prof. Carl G. Anthon in American Historical Review, December 1978, p. 1289, reviewing the German version "Die Anglo-Amerikaner und die Vertreibung der Deutschen".
- "Mr de Zayas... is surely right to dwell on their miseries and on the double standards of the victors. Some of them, after all, professed to believe in the principles of the Atlantic Charter. The book should cause argument and controversy; it deserves a wide readership." David Steeds in British Book News
- "The author traces the genesis of the relevant territorial arrangements and ensuing population transfers and then gives a well-documented and horrifying account of the exodus, the sufferings and deaths of millions, the ruthlessness of the new masters -- a travesty of the 'orderly and humane' fashion in which the measures were supposed to be carried out." William Guttmann in Observer.
- "An interesting, well-written, and important book covering a topic on which almost nothing has appeared in English. Notes, bibliography and illustrations are excellent. Highly recommended for libraries of four-year colleges and graduate schools wanting good material on recent Central European affairs " Choice, July–August 1977 (Journal of the American Library Association).
- "An excellent piece of historical research", Professor A.K. Damodaran in International Studies, 1991, volume 28, Number 3, pages 348-51.
- "An account of British and American acquiescence in the brutal expulsion of millions of Germans from their homes in East-Central Europe at the end of World War II. The author ... makes much of the legal (and moral) implications of the issue while understating its historical complexities." Christoph Kimmich in Foreign Affairs, 1977
- "A young legal scholar from New York, Alfred de Zayas, has written a book on a subject long taboo and ignored by German writers -- the brutal expulsion of 16 million Germans from their homelands in Central and Eastern Europe after the Red Army moved in... Mr. de Zayas, who is 29 years old and has a fellowship at the University of Göttingen emphasized: ... 'I had taken a number of courses in history at Fordham and Harvard and this was just never mentioned. I don't think people outside Germany know much about it.' Truman, Churchill and Stalin agreed at Potsdam in 1945 that the German populations of Eastern Europe should undergo 'transfer to Germany' but 'in an orderly and humane manner'. The de Zayas book makes clear that the last provision was not fulfilled." Craig R. Whitney in the New York Times on 13 February 1977 and in the International Herald Tribune, 17 February 1977.
- "De Zayas vividly describes the voluntary migrations caused by the brutalities of the advancing Soviet Army and the involuntarty expulsions agreed to by the Allies ...As the only book-length treatment of the subject, this is for all libraries with strong collections in modern European history. Library Journal, David P. Jensen, Greensboro Coll. Lib., North Carolina, 1 May 1977, p. 1014.
UN Watch countered by asking "Yes or no, do you deny that your works have been featured on Holocaust denier websites such as "Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH)"?"
In the debate, De Zayas answered: "Honestly, do you really think that I have the time so visit those sites? I do not know any Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust. They may like my books, but so do tens of thousands of other people who have bought them. My books are sold by all booksstores and in Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.uk. They are in most university libraries. It is not my function to monitor who is reading my books. But I do pay attention to reviews, and thus far the scholarly press has been largely positive, notwithstanding a couple of negative reviews, which is entirely normal, especially when one is addressing neglected topics."
De Zayas upheld: "All victims of violations of human rights deserve our attention and our compassion. When I was young I gave some attention to the German expellee question, because nobody else was doing it. In a very real sense, they were "unsung" victims. In no way did this diminish the horror of the Holocaust, or the legitimate expectation of Jewish victims to recognition and reparation. I have since focused on the Armenians, on the Greeks of Pontos and Smyrna, on the Cypriots, on the Kurds, on the Tamils, the Amerindios, on the Aborigines of Australia—all of them victims, and all of them largely ignored. Some people would like to sweep these tragedies under the carpet, but I honestly believe that we will all be better served if more attention is devoted to these silent or even invisible victims. A commitment to human dignity and to the principle of equality of human beings requires us to do so—even if we have to break taboos."
Reception history and debate
Comments about UN Watch
As written in an article of the American Jewish Committee and mentioned on the UN Watch Website, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is quoted with the comment: “I deeply appreciate the valuable work performed by UN Watch. I believe that informed and independent evaluation of the United Nations’ activities will prove a vital source as we seek to adapt the Organization to the needs of a changing world.”
At the 2006 Centennial Anniversary of the American Jewish Committee, the Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva, Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, said about the work of UN Watch: "Allow me to also pay tribute to the valuable work of UN Watch in support of the just application of values and principles of the United Nations Charter and support for human rights for all."
The New Republic's Martin Peretz, in a 2007 blog piece, described the organization as "a truth-telling organization.” Claudia Rosett, a journalist-in-residence with the conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, praised UN Watch as "stalwart and invaluable".
Critique: UN Watch is Israel-biased and hypocritical
Ian Williams, former president of the of the United Nations Correspondents Association and author of The UN For Beginners, wrote in an opinion piece in The Guardian in 2007 that the main objective of UN Watch "is to attack the United Nations in general, and its human rights council in particular, for alleged bias against Israel". Williams supported UN Watch's condemnation of the UN Human Rights Council as a hypocritical organization, but also condemned UN Watch itself of hypocrisy for failing to denounce what he called "manifest Israeli transgressions against the human rights of Palestinians."
Major Patrick Truffer, chief of planning and coordination with the Logistic School of the Swiss Army, noted in a report of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Zurich) that UN Watch was founded in 1993 by the American Jewish Committee to defend the Israeli position in debates about Arab-Israeli issues.
AJC Executive Director David A. Harris clarified about the work of UN Watch in a letter offering his insights and analysis of current concerns facing American and world Jewry that "while the agenda of UN Watch touches on a number of issues, at its heart it concerns itself with Israel."
Desmond Lorenz de Silva, the former United Nations Chief War Crimes Prosecutor in Sierra Leone and Member of UNHRC Flotilla Fact Finding Misson, commented in the debate about the UNHRC Flotilla Fact Finding Misson that "[t]he remarks made by the representative of UN Watch betrays ... a fundamental and undenying ignorance of the law."
In December 2011, an op-ed in the Palestine Chronicle argues that UN Watch "downplay[s] Israel’s extensively documented human rights abuses as 'alleged' while at the same time confidently asserting that 'the facts are clear' regarding Syria’s 'gross and systematic violations of human rights'." The op-ed comments that "[a]lthough UN Watch purports to believe in the United Nations’ mission to 'save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,' the pro-Israel NGO bears significant responsibility for inducing a devastating war on the current generation in one Arab country already this year and is clearly determined to repeat the carnage in another." The article highlights that "UN Watch’s motto of 'Monitoring the United Nations, Promoting Human Rights' continues to obscure its real mission of 'Manipulating the United Nations, Promoting Israel’s Interests'".
March 2007 Hillel Neuer speech at the Human Rights Council and subsequent controversy
On 23 March 2007, UN Watch's Executive Director Hillel Neuer delivered a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which caused attention and controversy.
Hillel Neuer (UN Watch) speech
In his speech, Hillel Neuer stated that the Council had betrayed the dreams of its founders and become "a nightmare" with "terrible lies and moral inversion".
Neuer charged that the Council ignores human rights abuses worldwide, opting instead to enact "one resolution after another condemning one single state: Israel". He further argued that the Council's stated concern for Palestinian human rights is deceptive, and provided examples where it ignored atrocities against Palestinians "because Israel could not be blamed... The despots who run this Council couldn’t care less about Palestinians, or about any human rights. They seek to demonize Israeli democracy, to delegitimize the Jewish state, to scapegoat the Jewish people."
He further stated: "Faced with compelling reports from around the world of torture, persecution, and violence against women, what has the Council pronounced, and what has it decided? Nothing. Its response has been silence. Its response has been indifference. Its response has been criminal."
He continued by comparing: "So too, the racist murderers and rapists of Darfur women tell us they care about the rights of Palestinian women; the occupiers of Tibet care about the occupied; and the butchers of Muslims in Chechnya care about Muslims."
Reply by UNHRC President Luis Alfonso De Alba
The UNHRC President, Luis Alfonso De Alba of Mexico, responded that: "For the first time in this session I will not express thanks for that statement. I shall point out to the distinguished representative of the organization that just spoke, the distinguished representative of United Nations Watch, if you'd kindly listen to me. I am sorry that I'm not in a position to thank you for your statement."
He raised: "I should mention that I will not tolerate any similar statements in the Council. The way in which members of this Council were referred to, and indeed the way in which the council itself was referred to, all of this is inadmissible. In the memory of the persons that you referred to, founders of the Human Rights Commission, and for the good of human rights, I would urge you in any future statements to observe some minimum proper conduct and language. Otherwise, any statement you make in similar tones to those used today will be taken out of the records."
Subsequently, the Human Rights Council reemphazised that the remarks were never stricken from the record.
An op-ed writer in The National Post stated that the speech became "a major hit on YouTube".
In its editorial, The New York Sun called the speech a "diplomatic moment to remember". The newspaper editor Alan Gold highlighted: "We had to tip our hat to Mr. Neuer, who has, on occasion, written for these pages."
In an op-ed of the Australian, a commentator stated that: "It was a stunning denunciation, a non-government organisation laying bare the mendacity and prejudice of a key UN body."
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