Talk:UN Watch

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pasting content to the talk page for review: UN Watch, a Geneva-based group, was founded in 1993 to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter and promotes human rights for all. It is an accredited non-governmental organization with the UN ECOSOC and has affiliate status with the UN DPI. It has been affiliated with the American Jewish Committee since 2001. UN Watch led the largest NGO coalition at the UN Human Rights Council special session on Darfur in December 2006. [1] It has often appealed to the UN to take stronger action on Darfur. [2]


Activities

  • Monitor UN activities, resolutions, or official statements.
  • Promote human rights.
  • Forming coalitions with non-governmental organizations to enforce human rights protection and combat anti-Semitism.

History

UN Watch was established in 1993 under the chairmanship of Morris Abram, a pioneer leader in the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the United Negro College Fund, and Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. Its board includes leading human rights scholars and statesmen.

UN Watch is an accredited non-governmental organization that monitors the performance of the United Nations according to the yardstick of its own Charter. Areas of concern include strengthening the role of democracies within the UN and ensuring the equal treatment by the UN of its member states. At the United Nations, UN Watch has been at the forefront in the fight against anti-Semitism and against the UN’s discriminatory treatment of Israel.[1]


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and UN Watch

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the following about UN Watch:

"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. I can promise you that I will pay close attention to your observations and view in the years ahead."

Neuer and Kofi Annan

UN Watch campaigns

UN Watch cooperates with non-governmental organizations around the world in order to protect and promote the principles of the UN Charter. In 2004 UN Watch intervened on behalf of victims of torture and censorship in Cote d'Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Nepal, Myanmar, and Pakistan. [2] UN Watch also spoke out for the Lebanese victims of Syrian political assassinations. [3]

Darfur

UN Watch is among the leading advocates at the United Nations for human rights victims in Darfur. [4][5] UN Watch chaired the NGO Activist Summit For Darfur in 2007. [6] UN Watch challenged Sudan in 2007 for its rejection of human rights experts in Darfur. [7] UN Watch justice for child victims in Darfur in 2005. [8]

In August 2007, UN Watch director Hillel Neuer was the keynote speaker at the Save Darfur Canada rally in Montreal. [9] Neuer spoke together with Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, former commander of UN peacekeepers in the Balkans; Prof. Payam Akhavan, international law professor at McGill, and former senior advisor to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; Simon Deng, a black Christian from the south of Sudan who was sold into slavery into the Muslim north; Miss World Canada Nazanin Afshin-Jam; and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel.

Israel's Magen David Adom service

AJC and UN Watch (operating in common) were among the hundreds and thousands of individuals, organizations, legislators, Red Cross federations, and others who contributed to the effort that led the International Red Cross to finally recognize the membership of Magen David Adom, the Israeli emergency service, as well as the Palestinian service. The head of the Red Cross, Swiss Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey met and magician Uri Geller all supported the cause.[10]

Human rights testimony

UN Watch has represented human rights victims in regular testimony before the UN Human Rights Council.

Its outspoken advocacy for student Jenya Taranenko preceded her release from a Russian prison. [11]

UN Watch's Neuer debated Zimbabwe's UN ambassador on CNN over the Mugabe regime's dismal human rights record. [12]

In 2007 UN Watch spoke out for the Arab, Kurdish, and Bahai victims of violations in Iran. [13]

Monitoring UN Officials

UN Watch monitors the actions of UN officials to hold them accountable to the principle of the UN Charter. Its work has praised positive actions and criticized negative ones.

Praise

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon UN Watch has praised Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for speaking out for the victims of Darfur, confronting Sri Lanka over the killings of aid workers and acting to establish the international tribunal on the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon. [25] "Quietly but firmly, Ban is helping to confirm the UN's indispensable role in the world." [26]

UN Watch also praised Secretary-General Ban for following in the steps of his predecessor, Kofi Annan, in denouncing Holocaust denial and confronting the global scourge of anti-Semitism. [27]

Secretary General Kofi Annan UN Watch has often praised the actions of Mr. Kofi Annan. "On Darfur, Mr. Annan is certainly one of the most outspoken leaders on the international scene." [28] In "Time to Rally for Annan's Human Rights Reform," UN Watch praised Mr. Annan's reform efforts. [29]

UN Experts Asma Jahangir and Hina Jilani UN Watch has several times spoken out for the rights of the "hero" Asma Janhangir, and her sister Hina Jilani, both of whom are UN human rights officials who have been subjected to arrest and detention by Pakistan. [30] During a peaceful protest in support of women’s rights held in Lahore on May 14, 2005, Ms. Jahangir and Ms. Jilani were among several women who were publicly humiliated, beaten and arrested by Pakistani police. UN Watch confronted Pakistan over its actions at the June 2005 annual session of UN human rights experts in Geneva, causing Pakistan to issue its first apology for the “extremely unfortunate” incident. [31]


Criticism

Jean Ziegler

Jean Ziegler is "co-founder and vice-chairman of the foundation that administers the Moammar Khaddafi Prize for Human Rights, and arranged for Fidel Castro to win the US$250,000 award in 1998." [14] UN Watch has also described Jean Ziegler as "among the most vicious" of persecutors of Israel at the United Nations and a man who is obsessed with "bashing Israel." [15] In July 2006 UN Watch ran a campaign to 'Stop Jean Ziegler's nomination to the UN Human Rights Council' complete with proposed text of email to be sent to the Swiss Ambassador to the UN.[16]

UN Watch noted:

Ziegler is popular among Europe's trendy radicals for his anti-American writings and impassioned media appearances. He is also a hero for his frequent attacks on the Jewish state, all issued with his UN imprimatur...
In the summer of 2004, after it emerged that Ziegler was using UN staff and resources to run an anti-Israel boycott campaign, UN Watch petitioned for his removal with a legal brief to the UN Commission on Human Rights...It also documented a series of actions by Ziegler that showed a pattern of selective treatment of Israel, the only country he singled out for condemnation as a Nazi-like state that commits "state terror" and "war crimes."...The charges against Ziegler received wide media coverage, particularly in Switzerland but also in Europe, the United States, and Israel...UN Watch noted that under the European Union's definition of anti-Semitism, comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is a classic manifestation of this form of hatred...Finally, UN Watch alerted the media to the need for the UN to condemn Ziegler's demonization of Israelis...The impact was immediate. On the same day, 7 July, the UN Watch press release was cited by a reporter at the daily press conference of Annan's spokesman in New York. Consequently, the spokesman soon issued a statement denouncing Ziegler for his remarks. The next day the spokesman for Arbour did the same, followed later by an even stronger statement by Arbour herself in a letter to UN Watch. Canada then sent Ziegler a formal complaint letter. Finally, some seventy members of the U.S. Congress wrote to Annan and the Commission Chair seeking Ziegler's resignation.
The story of this unprecedented condemnation was reported worldwide by Reuters, the Associated Press, the Washington Times, China's Xinhua, and the Jerusalem Post. Headlines reading "Ziegler Criticized by UN" appeared in a dozen different newspapers in Switzerland, including Le Temps, Basler Zeitung, and Tages-Anzeiger. For the first time, the UN community had condemned one of the Commission's human rights experts for anti-Semitism. Later stories about Ziegler, such as by the Associated Press, have cited this condemnation, for the first time providing readers with the necessary context. [17]

On October 27, 2005, UN Watch published a study which recommended that Kofi Annan and other UN high officials condemn Jean Ziegler for bias and that the Chairman of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, "should remove Jean Ziegler from the position of Special Rapporteur on the right to food" and "if the Chairman does not do so, the 53 State Members of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights should convene to adopt a resolution terminating Jean Ziegler’s term". Failing this, it recommended that "Ziegler should resign".[18]


History

UN Watch is a non-governmental organization based in Geneva whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter. UN Watch was established in 1993 under the Chairmanship of Ambassador Morris B. Abram, the former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. UN Watch 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). Affiliated with the American Jewish Committee, the organization stands at the forefront at the United Nations in combating anti-Semitism and what former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described as the obsessive and one-sided condemnations of Israel that preoccupy several key UN bodies.

UN Watch supports the United Nations' mission on behalf of the international community to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" and provide for a more just world. The Geneva-based NGO believes that even with its shortcomings, the UN remains an indispensable tool in bringing together diverse nations and cultures. UN Watch is keenly aware that member states often ask the UN to fulfill mandates and tasks that are neither feasible nor within the means provided. While it would be unrealistic to ignore the UN’s weaknesses, it advocates finding ways to build on its strengths and use its limited resources effectively.

UN Watch is foremost concerned with the just application of UN Charter principles. Areas of interest include: UN management reform, the UN and civil society, equality within the UN, and the equal treatment of member states. UN Watch notes that the disproportionate attention and unfair treatment applied by the UN toward Israel over the years offers an object lesson (though not the only one) in how due process, equal treatment, and other fundamental principles of the UN Charter are often ignored or selectively upheld.

Members

Chaired by Ambassador Alfred H. Moses (Chair), former US Ambassador to Romania and Presidential Emissary for the Cyprus Conflict, UN Watch is governed by an international board whose members include: Per Ahlmark (European Co-Chair), former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden; Professor Irwin Cotler, international human rights advocate and former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada; David A. Harris (Co-Chair), AJC Executive Director; Ambassador Max Jakobson, former Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN in New York; and Ruth Wedgwood, professor of international law and diplomacy at Johns Hopkins University. UN Watch, Geneva, Switzerland

Staff

Neuer pic low res headshot.jpg

Executive Director: Hillel C. Neuer

Hillel C. Neuer is executive director of UN Watch, a human rights NGO in Geneva, Switzerland. Originally from Montreal, Neuer has written on law, politics and international affairs for publications such as the International Herald Tribune, Juriste International, Commentary, The New Republic Online and the Christian Science Monitor. He appears regularly before the UN Human Rights Council, intervening for a range of causes including the rape victims of Darfur, political prisoners in Cuba, and Middle East peace. He recently testified as an expert witness before a hearing of the U.S. Congress on UN reform, and is regularly quoted by major media organizations including the New York Times, Die Welt, Le Figaro and Reuters. In the past year Neuer has debated UN human rights issues on CNN, Fox News, and the BBC. Prior to joining UN Watch, Neuer practiced commercial and civil rights litigation at the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison LLP. Active as a human rights defender, Neuer was cited by the Federal Court of New York for the high quality of his pro bono advocacy on a precedent-setting First Amendment case for prisoners’ rights and freedom of religion, as reported in AIDS Litigation Digest and the New York Law Journal. Neuer served as a law clerk to the Supreme Court of Israel. He holds a BA in intellectual history and political science from Concordia University, a BCL and LLB from the McGill University Faculty of Law, and a LLM in comparative constitutional law from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Neuer is a member of the New York bar and co-author of the Annotated Copyright Act of Canada and Directors and Officers—A Canadian Legal Manual.

McGill University Law School, Human Rights Center

Principals

prior discussion about the article

RadicalProg:

Before you go about spewing allegations, I suggest you check the references, including Saltiel's email. Unless you are suggesting that the sources are also in on the conspiracy you impute to me, It would be best for you to take your quarrel to them.

--Idrees 10:30, 5 May 2008 (EDT)

Dear WomenAfrica,

I have just fixed formatting problems with the UN Watch article, and added back information that you had deleted from the page.

Please do not delete referenced information from any article on SourceWatch. As I've pointed out before, doing so is against SourceWatch policies / guidelines.

Thanks, Diane Farsetta 15:32, 22 January 2008 (EST)


Dear Diane,

- I have now made additions to other UN Watch campaigns with citations. - The hyperbolic language of "targets" was modified to the more neutral and descriptive campaigns. - The hyperbolic and partisan section on Red Cross was expanded and contextualized, also rendered mre netural and descriptive.

WomenAfrica 19:57, 19 November 2007 (EST)

Dear Ven ,

The problem is that, once again, you have deleted entire sections of the UN Watch article (specifically, most of the "Targets of UN Watch" section) without any explanation. Therefore, I have again restored the material that you deleted.

Please abide by SourceWatch policies and either explain in detail why you are deleting referenced information, or refrain from doing so. Otherwise you will be judged a disruptive user and banned from the site.

Best, Diane Farsetta 10:14, 19 February 2007 (EST)


Thanks Diane. I just organized material to clear up repetitions and added some links and references requested.

Best, Ven Tibaijukala

I just restored referenced info that had been removed from this article without explanation by User:WomenAfrica. Any removal of information must be explaned with a post to the corresponding talk page - is the info wrong? out of date? Otherwise the deletions will be reverted. Please see SourceWatch:Contributing and related Help pages for more on SourceWatch policies.

Also, while I left all of the new material added by User:WomenAfrica, it is not referenced. Please add references (links to online material or descriptions of offline material) as soon as possible.

Best, Diane Farsetta 11:42, 16 February 2007 (EST)


I have relocated this section for the moment.

UN Watch claims to have 'complete independence' from the AJC.[19] But it is perfectly clear from the press release on the AJC website that this is false.
  • the reference is to source that is not online; ^  Leon Saltiel Inaccuracies email to Spinwatch, 3 July 2006.
  • the claim now seems to have been superseded as UN Watch state on their website that "UN Watch is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee (AJC)." [20]
  • so if it were to remain on the page it should go into a history section but with with the original reference online somewhere.:It claims that its main focus is not Israel:
We primarily speak against gross human rights violations all around the world, including Darfur, Zimbabwe, Russia etc. You can get any idea by browsing our website. In parallel, part of our work is to combat anti-Israel bias within the UN system, which we believe hampers its ability to effectively respond to urgent human rights situations around the world. [21]
  1. ^ Leon Saltiel Inaccuracies email to Spinwatch, 3 July 2006.
  • again, this is only of much use if the source can be verified - but it doesn't appear to be on the Spinwatch site (though there is an empty page there).

--Bob Burton 15:23, 6 January 2007 (EST)

I removed this:

  • lobby for the inclusion of AJC approved personnel; this is a standard operating procedure by the American Jewish Committee (e.g., see AJC News Update Number 212)

this appears to relate to the AJC and not UN Watch (the source is not online) and as such is an extrapolation from one organisation to its subsidiary - this would be more relevant for the AJC page.

I also deleted some material that was really a repitation of the point that UNWatch is a subsidiary of AJC adn its focus is primarily on Israel. --Bob Burton 16:00, 6 January 2007 (EST)

I removed some other suplication and deleted an unnecessary sub-head. I have relocated this point.

Many Web Directories have UN Watch wrongly listed under United Nations Organizations.

Without knowing which directories and what classification UN Watch is under, this doesn'e really add much. On its website UN Watch states that it is an NGO accredited with the UN [22]. The core point, that UNW seek to portray themsleves as something other than one of many thousands of NGO's that lobby the UN seems the main point to make in this section.


I agree with Bob. There are some major errors and flaws with this entry. There have been several complaints in the system about entries by Idrees (Muhammad Idrees Ahmad) for their misuse of source material, failure to provide support, and unfounded accusations. This seems to be yet another example.

A. “The main activities of UN Watch”

A review of UN Watch’s activities from their website and on Google shows that it undoubtedly devotes significant attention to what it describes as combating anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitism. However, a quick review of the press releases and reports on their website demonstrates they are also engaged in significant activities regarding (1) monitoring and reforming the UN human rights apparatus; and (2) speaking out for human rights victims in Darfur and elsewhere. Failure to list the latter two as main activities seems to have been a deliberate distortion from the submission by Idrees.

'B. False Conspiracy Accusations'

The current Idrees-authored entry is fundamentally flawed by its accusations of a sinister conspiracy that is simply not there. Far from hiding its activities or interest in Israel-related matters, the Israel issue is all over their website. The organization devotes several major sections to Israel issues on its website, says openly in the beginning of its “About Us” section that it is affiliated with a Jewish organization and that it devotes special attention to what it describes as UN inequality against Israel, and even has an image of an Israeli flag on its homepage.

The Idrees entry itself makes no sense because on the one hand it quotes substantial segments from UN Watch publications that proudly mention its role as “leading the struggle against anti-Israel bias at the UN” – while as the same time he says UN Watch does not mention this aspect at all. Can’t have it both ways.

Therefore the following accusation in this Idrees entry seem to be malicious: “…they try their best to appear neutral.” In fact they make their strong positions on these issues very clearly.


C. In the section entitled “Promoting the Israeli regime,” the Idrees entry cites as evidence the following example: UN Watch's campaign to “Fight discrimination against Israel in the UN's regional group system.” However, a quick Google search reveals that this campaign – to end Israel’s exclusion from any of the UN’s 5 regional groups – has been embraced by none other than UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan himself, as a requirement of the UN Charter.

See UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, “Remarks at Dinner Hosted by H.E. Mr. Moshe Katsav, President of the State of Israel,” March 15, 2005 <http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=1350>. (“We need to correct a long-standing anomaly that kept Israel from participating fully and equally in the work of the [United Nations] Organization.”) Unless Idrees is also accusing Kofi Annan of seeking to “promote the Israeli regime,” this seems to be a distortion of a legitimate appeal based on the UN Charter.


D. Idrees accusation: “UN Watch and its members continously portray their organization as if it were part of the United Nations itself.”

In fact, there is nothing on the UN Watch website that does this at all. Since much of what this Swiss group seems to do is critique the UN for what it claims are actions falling short of the UN Charter, it’s hard to see how anyone would ever think it is part of the very organization it is criticizing.

The Idrees accusation is simply incoherent and, it seems, malicious. His only claimed support is a quote from a few years ago where the organization says it is “mandated” to monitor the UN. Why Mr. Idrees or anyone else would take this to mean mandated by the UN itself – instead of by its own constitution or members -- is a mystery. Unless he deliberately seeks to misinform.

E. Staff

The list by Idrees of current staff has no basis other than a 2005 report’s acknowledgment for research assistance. Therefore he could well be including people who worked possibly for 5 minutes, 5 days, or 5 months – all of this in the year 2005 – as current staff. Further research on their website – from speeches given, etc. – suggests that only the first person on the list is current staff.

Email from UN Watch

Hi Bob,

The confusion stems from the absence of the Saltiel letter, which appears on a seperate page on Spinprofiles (which is still offline), which I had forgotten to transfer. My earlier post did not claim that UN Watch denies affiliation with AJC; in fact, UN Watch claims that it works in "complete independence" despite the affiliation -- a claim contradicted by the AJC Media Release. I'm sure even "Radical Prog" can appreciate the difference between "complete independence" [claimed by Salitel] and "full control" [claimed by AJC].

Regarding the group's politics, "Zionist" is an merited adjective, since the group is under the "full control" of the American Jewish Committee, whose Zionist politics are hardly a secret. Besides, the group's claims regarding the UN's charter are plainly disingenuous since it has nothing to say regarding UNGAR 194, UN 242 and UN 338 -- the three resolutions central to the continuing conflict.

I also don't see why the organization shouldn't be described as a "lobby group" since that is clearly its raison d'etre.

As for Saltiel's emails, here is the exchange with Spinprofiles:


Dear David,

Thank you for your response.

The description of our NGO on your website is not very accurate.

First of all, UN Watch is an independent Swiss NGO that is affiliated with the AJC. However, we are not "funded/staffed/organized organization" by them. We do our own funding/staffing/organizing and we have complete independence from the AJC.

The three bullets also in our description do not do justice to our organization. We primarily speak against gross human rights violations all around the world, including Darfur, Zimbabwe, Russia etc. You can get any idea by browsing our website. In parallel, part of our work is to combat anti-Israel bias within the UN system, which we believe hampers its ability to effectively respond to urgent human rights situations around the world.

The other 2 bullets are totally wrong and should be removed.

Thank you for your consideration.

Leon


Original Message -----

From: David Miller
To: lsaltiel@unwatch.org
Sent: Monday, July 03, 2006 1:24 PM
Subject: [Fwd: inaccuracies]


Leon,


please let us know what the inaccuracies are and we will have a look.

Thanks

David Miller



Original Message ----------------------------

>Subject: inaccuracies
>From: "Leon Saltiel" <lsaltiel@unwatch.org>
>Date: Wed, June 28, 2006 10:49 pm
>To: editor@nuclearspin.org


> >Hi there.
>
>I noticed some inaccuracies on your site, while mentioning the NGO I work
>for. The link is http://www.nuclearspin.org/index.php/UN_Watch. >
>How can I correct the information?
>
>Thanks,
>
>Leon
>


Edit note

I reverted the changes by WomenAfrica as in part at least, they deleted referenced material without explanation. Some of the other material seems like more routine updating which I'll return to a little later and merge in with the existing article.--Bob Burton 17:21, 13 July 2009 (EDT)

Edit note

Bob,

You're right, I'm sorry -- I forgot to explain the edits. There were several contradictory, unsources and clearly incorrect elements in the version written by Idrees.

1. "UN Watch is a Geneva-based lobbying group set up by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to pressure United Nations against taking a critical stance on Israel."

UN Watch's positions are clearly pro-Israel. But Idrees seems to take things several steps further with no source. First, UN Watch is officially recognized by the UN as a human rights NGO. UN Source: UN list of NGOs Amnesty and Human Rights Watch also "lobby" for their positions, but if they're UN-recognized NGOs, that's what they should be called. Idrees provides no source for doing otherwise.

Second, UN Watch was founded in 1993, and appears only to have joined with the AJC in 2001. So it's obviuosly false to say it was "set up by the American Jewish Committee." Mixing up the history and dates would just as well lead us to believe that the American Jewish Committee is still anti-Zionist, as it was apparently for many years. [23]

2. " UN Watch earlier tried to hide its Israel Lobby link when one of its employees Leon Saltiel wrote Spinwatch.org claiming 'complete independence' from the AJC.(email reproduced on the 'Discussion' page) However this is belied by the press release on the AJCs website which noted that UN Watch is to become 'fully integrated' into the AJC. the release concluded: Eighteen months ago, the American Jewish Committee and the World Jewish Congress reached an agreement, approved by the international board of UN Watch, to transfer full control of the organization to AJC, an agreement that went into effect on January 1, 2001.[1]"


UN Watch's website lists its affiliation with the American Jewish Committee. (Source: UN Watch About Us) So it's odd for Idrees to complain about a 2006 email from a UN Watch employee about this, when their website lists it, as do their reports. (Source: UN Watch report

Besides, one party's posting of alleged emails is not a valid source in the sense that an existing URL link would be.

In summary, Idrees seems to be skewing the article to pursue a personal vendetta and political agenda, deliberatetly exaggerating some elements, obscuring others, and generally misrepresenting the complete picture of what United Nations Watch seems to do.

In the United States, there are many human rights organizations that are Jewish-affiliated or pro-Israel -- a position many of us can agree or disagree with -- and are at the same time leaders on a broad range of human rights issues, including immigration reform, women's rights, gay rights, civil rights, poverty, capital punishment, affirmative action, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and so forth. An objective article would note all of this, including specifically the American Jewish Committee's role domestically (Source: AJC and Civil Rights), as well as in promoting human rights institutions and guarantees at the United Nations and internationally (source: link AJC role in creating UN human rights.

The evidence shows that United Nations Watch was founded by a civil rights pioneer, Morris Abram, former president of the United Negro College Fund, and that it continues to speak actively on a broad range of universal human rights issues. Source: UN Watch speeches, and Idrees has shown no legitimate basis to hide this reality from the readers.

Regards, Mamerthe