UN official Richard Falk, who was condemned for blaming the Boston terrorist attack on U.S. and Israeli policies, has once again justified the bombings as a form of "resistance" that was "bound" to result from U.S. "military undertakings," in an interview he gave to The Daily Princetonian newspaper.
In an unprecedented move, UN Watch, a Geneva-based group with non-governmental observer status at the United Nations, today circulated a draft resolution to terminate Falk's mandate, and called on the U.S. and the EU to endorse it.
UN Watch also urged UN rights chief Navi Pillay, and council president Remigiusz Achilles Henczel of Poland, to follow Ban Ki-moon's example and condemn Falk's latest remarks. So far, both have kept silent.
UN Watch submitted the draft text in the form of a NGO written statement to the UN Human Rights Council, which means that it will officially appear on the council's agenda and be circulated to delegates when Falk addresses the 47-nation body on June 10th.
To be voted upon and adopted, however, the resolution will have to be sponsored by one of the council's 47 member countries, such as the United States.
"Richard Falk is disgracing the United Nations and its human rights system," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. "Country mandates are discontinued all the time. While it's true that no independent expert has ever been fired during his term, Falk is an exceptional case that calls for special measures."
Neuer, an attorney specializing in international law, rejected claims by UN insiders that Falk cannot be fired.
"The council has full plenary power to create and discontinue mandates," said Neuer, "and to appoint and remove mandate-holders. Though it would be unprecedented to fire a council expert, the notion that the UN is powerless to remove any official, or terminate the position itself, is as false as it is nonsensical."
"The obstacle is not legal but political. However, given the vital fact that the Palestinians themselves have previously called for Falk to go—due to his support for Hamas—there is clearly a cross-regional coalition that can be formed, if the U.S. and the EU take the lead."
There are currently 48 UN rights experts, most of them monitoring subject areas, with only a dozen dealing with specific countries.
Neuer acknowledged the fears of fellow activists and diplomats that removing Falk might create a slippery slope, whereby rights-abusing countries would seek the removal of effective monitors in order to escape scrutiny.
"It is a real risk, but any cost-benefit analysis must recognize that Falk is an extreme and present danger to the council's credibility. The only other effective measure would be for the U.S. to convince France—which inexplicably has defended Falk—and other countries to publicly call for his resignation. If there is enough pressure, he might actually leave on his own."
Falk told The Princetonian that "The U.S. is really the only country that projects its military power to all parts of the world."
"There is a sense of tension between the West and the non-West and … engaging in military undertakings around the world is bound to produce some kinds of resistance, and that resistance as in the Boston incident can assume a pathological form … but it connects with this projection of power globally in ways that no other country does, and for that reason it's worth considering whether this kind of global approach to security is really working."
"One would have thought and hoped that these kinds of experiences would give rise to more self-awareness, self-scrutiny — looking at the mirror and seeing how others perceive what we're doing in the world," Falk said.