Tuesday, January 29, 2008

UN S-G in Time Warp; Human Rights High Commissioner Endorses Bigotry

24 January 2008

Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

[These are excerpts, along with along with bracketed comments. The full transcript may be found at www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2008/db080124.doc.htm.]

Good afternoon.

**Secretary-General Addresses World Economic Forum

The Secretary-General this morning addressed the plenary session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, telling them that the challenge of securing safe and plentiful water for all is one of the most daunting challenges faced by the world today. He noted that the lack of water had contributed to poverty and tension around the world, from Darfur to the Occupied Palestinian Territory to Colombia.

[The Secretary-General is apparently caught in a time-warp, unaware that almost all the Palestinian Arabs in the disputed territories are living under their own government, run either by the extremist Hamas terrorists (in Gaza/Hamastan) or by the more moderate Fatah terrorists (in Judea and Samaria/West Bank).]

Prior to addressing the Forum, the Secretary-General met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, with whom he discussed the implications of the Annapolis process and the developments in Gaza and the West Bank. The Secretary-General reiterated his call on Israel to refrain from actions that will harm the well-being of the general civilian population in Gaza.

[There is no need to ask Israel to avoid harming civilians; unfortunately, he forgot to address those whose raison d'etre is murdering civilians — Hamas.]

Later he met with Quartet envoy Tony Blair and discussed Palestinian capacity-building, the Paris donors’ conference and the importance of accelerating projects that donors had promised at Paris, and the situation in Gaza.

[What about the situation in Sederot?]

**Security Council

And the Security Council, here, held consultations this morning on the Middle East, as you know, to continue the discussions from yesterday afternoon about the text of a draft presidential statement concerning the recent events in Gaza.

** Gaza Humanitarian Update

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Special Coordinator’s Office in Jerusalem, 315,000 litres of industrial gas, 20,000 litres of benzene, 250,000 litres of diesel, and 200 tons of cooking gas went from Israel into Gaza today.

[Only Israel transfers supplies to its enemies.]

But there is still a shortage of benzene for hospital workers’ vehicles, so only three hospitals in Gaza are operating. The World Food Programme (WFP) was able to get some benzene today on the local commercial market, but that might only be enough to last them until the middle of next week.

WFP calls the situation in Gaza a “serious food crisis” and says that the access restrictions are causing them to run out of food. As a result, vulnerable people, such as the sick and elderly, received only partial rations yesterday. Meanwhile, tensions rose at a distribution point yesterday after supplies of chickpeas, sugar and salt ran out. In addition, new security checks are leading to a cost increase of nearly $50,000 extra per month for WFP operations in Gaza.

In terms of further updates, no UN trucks were permitted to cross into Gaza today. And Gaza’s power plant has been rationing supplies to avoid a crisis this weekend.

[That manufactured crisis is obviously no more, as there is unimpeded access between Egypt and Gaza. Indeed, one wonders why The United Nations, if it was really interested in the welfare of the Arabs living in Hamastan, wasn't transferring goods from Egypt into Gaza all along.]

**Human Rights Council

Earlier in Geneva today, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in which it called for urgent international action to put an immediate end to Israel’s grave violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

[When has the discredited "Human Rights Council" adopted a resolution calling for urgent international action to put an immediate end to the Palestinian Authority's grave violations of the basic human rights of Israelis, particularly to live.]

The Human Rights Council also demanded that Israel immediately lift the siege it had imposed on Gaza, restore continued supply of fuel, food and medicine, and reopen the border crossings.

The result of the vote was 30 in favour and 1 against, with 15 abstentions.

The final text did not change from the draft version that we had in our office yesterday.

And there’s more information on this upstairs.

**Arab Charter on Human Rights

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, meanwhile, today welcomed the entry into force of the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Regional systems of promotion and protection can further help strengthen the enjoyment of human rights. And the Arab Charter is an important step forward in this direction, she added.

And there’s more on that upstairs in the Spokesperson’s Office.

[Excerpts from that document are below. By endorsing it, Arbour endorses hatred and once again makes a farce of human rights.]

**Questions and Answers

Question: I’m very keenly aware that I’m asking something you likely do not know, but I’d like you to look this up, if possible. You mentioned there were three hospitals operating in Gaza. I take it that means … does that mean Gaza Strip or Gaza City?

Deputy Spokesperson: In Gaza.

Question: In Gaza City. How many hospitals are there total in Gaza? What is their total bed count? And, just for reference, what is the known population, as far as you know, of the City of Gaza? Also, you mentioned that you had some material on the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Do you in fact have the exact text of that Charter among that material?

Deputy Spokesperson: The Arab Charter on Human Rights was adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States on 15 September 1994, so I’m sure that it is up on the Human Rights website (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights).

And the questions about the statistics about how many hospitals and beds in Gaza, I’m sure that my colleagues upstairs probably have that, so we’ll follow up on that.

[The Deputy Spokesperson later added that there are some half-dozen hospitals in Gaza. All hospitals are functioning, though only three have received fuel today.]

Question: Regarding the resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council today on the situation in Gaza, which country voted against the resolution? Do you know if the United States or Israel attended the meeting?

Deputy Spokesperson: Canada was the one vote against, we’re told, and neither the US… You asked if the US or Israel…?

[There may be significant anti-Israel activity in Canada, but there is still some sanity in its government.]

Correspondent: Yes.

Deputy Spokesperson: Neither the US nor Israel participated.

Question: Yes. Which country voted against the resolution?

Deputy Spokesperson: Canada.

Question: Maybe I’m mistaken, but I believe that there is a law that if a [United Nations] body is handling a topic that it’s not duplicated elsewhere. At least from the time … like maybe 10, 12 years ago I remember that events or topics that were discussed in one organ not being paralleled in another place. So we have the Human Rights Council bringing up the situation with Israel and now the Security Council. Has there been a reform of the Charter?

[The United Nations has long had a de facto policy of ignoring both its rules and its mission when it comes to promoting the hatred of Israel.]

Deputy Spokesperson: It’s up to the members of these bodies to decide what they want to discuss.

Question: Is it possible to have a briefing on the Alliance of Civilizations Forum meeting in Madrid? We had already requested it.

Deputy Spokesperson: Oh, of course. We’ll certainly put in that request.

Question: I don’t know if this was raised, but there were several suggestions by Israeli officials in recent days since the breakdown of the barriers in Gaza, to re-route deliveries of humanitarian goods. Rather than go through the borders that Israel controls, they would go through the border crossing that Egypt controls. Is that a feasible solution, from UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) and other UN agencies’ point of view?

Deputy Spokesperson: I have not heard anything from UNRWA on this, but we can certainly check into it for you.

[The Deputy Spokesperson later added that, under the current agreement between Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Rafah is not supposed to serve to import goods. In addition, no adequate infrastructure exists in Rafah to do so.]


Arab Charter on Huma Rights, adopted by the League of Arab States, reprinted in 18 Hum. Rts. L.J. 151 (1997).

[These are excerpts. The full text may be found at www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/arabhrcharter.html.]

Council of the League of Arab States, Cairo

Arab Charter on Human Rights

adopted on 15 September 1994 (not yet ratified as of 30 June 1997), full text (1), translated from Arabic (2)

" The Governments of the member States of the League of Arab States (3)


Given the Arab nation's belief in human dignity since God honoured it by making the Arab World the cradle of religions and the birthplace of civilizations which confirmed its right to a life of dignity based on freedom, justice and peace,

Pursuant to the eternal principles of brotherhood and equality among all human beings which were firmly established by the Islamic Shari'a and the other divinely-revealed religions,

Being proud of the humanitarian values and principles which it firmly established in the course of its long history and which played a major role in disseminating centres of learning between the East and the West, thereby making it an international focal point for seekers of knowledge, culture and wisdom,

Conscious of the fact that the entire Arab World has always worked together to preserve its faith, believing in its unity, struggling to protect its freedom, defending the right of nations to self-determination and to safeguard their resources, believing in the rule of law and that every individual's enjoyment of freedom, justice and equality of opportunity is the yardstick by which the merits of any society are gauged,

Rejecting racism and zionism, which constitute a violation of human rights and pose a threat to world peace,

[That's an interesting exercise, given that rejecting Zionism is not technically racism, but it's certainly a close cousin.]

Acknowledging the close interrelationship between human rights and world peace,

Reaffirming the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the provisions of the United Nations International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (4)

In confirmation of all the above, have agreed as follows :

Part I

Article 1

(b) Racism, zionism, occupation and foreign domination pose a challenge to human dignity and constitute a fundamental obstacle to the realization of the basic rights of peoples. There is a need to condemn and endeavour to eliminate all such practices.

[There it is again, condemnation of the national liberation movement of the Jewish people — and now praised by the High Commissioner of Human Rights!]


(3) The 22 member States of the League of Arab States are : Jordan. United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Djibouti. Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic. Somalia. Iraq, Oman. Palestine, Qatar, Comoros, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Yemen.

[Egypt and Jordan have peace treaties with Israel, yet adopted a document condemning the very existence of Israel.

As far as the Arab League is concerned, "Palestine" is already a state.

Most of the rest actually reads like a very idealistic, much as the constitution of the Former Soviet Union did.]

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