UNSG BAN Ki-Moon – is there a critical mass of disenchantment?

A vigilant friend and colleague in Geneva has sent this translation by UNRIC’s Desk Officer for Spain of
the article that appeared in El Pais on Sunday, saying “the translation is not perfect but tells you what John Carlin [and Spain’s prominent newspaper El Pais! says about Ban Ki-moon:.

FEATURE ARTICLE: THE UN, THE BIG ABSENT
DOES SOMEONE KNOW THIS MAN?
BAN-KI-MOON, THE INVISIBLE MAN

“The UN Secretary-General has remained absent from the great international conflicts and has blurred the role of the Organization. The United Nations therefore misses the opportunity to rebuild itself from the Iraq dump now that the upcoming changes in Washington come up.

El Pais, 07/09/2008
By John Carlin

“During a meeting with Palestinian leaders in East Jerusalem last year, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, began expressing his satisfaction ‘for being in Israel’.

While the Palestinians who were present showed astonishment, making efforts to repress their indignation, one of Ban’s advisers whispered him that calling the occupied territory where they were “Israel” was not the most diplomatic thing he could do, given the attendants. Ban agreed, continued and finished his remarks with a smile and a happy “it has been a great pleasure to be in Israel’.

The confusion that Ban caused that day among the Palestinians has extended today, 20 months after he took over the post of Secretary-General, to the majority of the member States of the UN. On the eve of 63rd Session of the General Assembly that will begin in New York on the 16th of this month, a yearly ceremony in which Heads of Government of the entire world meet, there is an increasing perception that it would not be advisable that Ban, in the past the Foreign Minister of his country, South Korea, be renewed in his present five-year mandate when it concludes. The usual thing to do would be to continue in the post that some have described as a ‘Lay Pope’. But the impression that ‘the glass is half empty’ increases, a former top UN official points out.

“He adds that (Ban) is not the right man to preserve the independence and the legitimacy of the United Nations at a time in which it suffers from increasing paralysis, although there is a slight opportunity –before the imminent change of Government in United States- to be able to rise from the remains of the war of Iraq and the animosity of the President George W. Bush, as the moral and political force of Human Rights and Peace, as it was intended to be when it was founded at the end WWII. Continue reading UNSG BAN Ki-Moon – is there a critical mass of disenchantment?

Dugard – UNSG BAN Ki-Moon should quit Quartet

The UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, John Dugard, has said today that the UN Secretary General should pull out of the Quartet that the U.S. has put together to support President Bush’s moves for Middle East peace — unless the Quartet begins to pay due regard to the deteriorating human rights situation in the Palestinian territory.

His remarks come as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah to check on progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations ahead of Middle East peace talks that the U.S. will host in Annapolis later this year.

After a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today, Rice told journalists at a joint press conference that both parties’ “obligations are spelled out in a really rather concrete way in the first phase of the roadmap” and that “the United States will be working with both parties to make certain that those roadmap obligations are implemented. I think that is an important role that we can play as a member of the Quartet and as a party with friendly relations with both Israel and the Palestinians”.

Dugard, a South African professor of international law who formerly opposed the now-eradicated Apartheid regime in his country, was interviewed today by the BBC World Service, and by Al-Jazeera TV’s English service. “Every time I visit [the occupied Palestinian territory], the situation seems to have worsened” he told the BBC. He last visited the Palestinian territory in late September, just a few weeks ago.

On Al-Jazeera today, in English, he criticized the Quartet for not ever having mentioned the International Court of Justice’s 2004 Advisory Opinion on The Wall.

Rice will have had to pass through a formidable Israeli checkpoint that allows only a few Palestinians to pass through The Wall on her trips to and from Ramallah, in the West Bank, but she is not known to have ever taken a closer look or a more in-depth tour of The Wall.

Dugard has become increasingly testy in recent years, while staying totally on message. Israel has criticized Dugard as biased and pro-Palestinian, yet Dugard is one of the few UN Human Rights experts who has actually come to Israel, in order to investigate the situation in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel. However, his mandate does not include looking into the human rights situation in Israel itself. Nor has he ever been given an official Israeli visa in his United Nations Laissez Passer to conduct his missions, and he enters the country on his national passport (i.e., as a tourist). Israeli officials do not receive Dugard, officially, either.

Other UN Human Rights officials and envoys have generally refused to come unless they were given official Israeli visas for their missions.

Continue reading Dugard – UNSG BAN Ki-Moon should quit Quartet