Hillel Neuer
International human rights lawyer, writer & activist

Top Falk allies defeated in bid for UN post

After they were first exposed in this column, five virulent anti-Israel activists have been eliminated in the race to replace pro-Hamas official Richard Falk, the UN’s permanent investigator on “Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law.”

This constitutes a major defeat for candidates like terror apologist Phyllis Bennis, who only days ago boasted to her followers:              

By the way, some of you may know this already, I’m now on the short-list of candidates to succeed my great colleague and friend Richard Falk as the next United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The selection process is underway at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, I’ll let you know…

Well, now we know: Bennis is gone. One small victory for the true cause of universal human rights.

In addition, the 5-nation vetting panel — exceptionally comprised this year almost entirely of democracies — produced a final list of names that also puts an end to the candidacies of four other severely biased applicants, each of whom was strongly opposed by UN Watch: Christine Chanet, Michael Mansfield, William Schabas, and Johannes Wijenberg.

Chanet had presided over a one-sided UN Human Rights Council inquiry that in 2012 prompted Israel to walk out for two years. Mansfield and Schabas were key figures in the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine,” a kangaroo court. Wijenberg, a former Dutch envoy to Saudi Arabia, goes to Qatar conferences on Jerusalem and accuses Israel of “creeping genocide.”

All of these candidates have now been defeated.

Instead, council president Baudelaire Ndong Ella of Gabon has been given a list of three names. In consultation with UN member states — including the powerful Arab and Islamic blocs — the president will make his choice in late March.

The vetting panel’s top candidate is Christina Cerna, who retired three years ago from her career as a human rights specialist with the Washington-based Organization of American States.

In a rare act of UN fairness, the panel gave special weight to the fact that Cerna, unlike the others, has “not previously taken public positions on issues relevant to the mandate.”

That is indeed to her credit, and it is further noteworthy that Cerna did not exclusively seek out this inherently biased position — she had also applied for four other UNHRC jobs.

Regrettably, however, Cerna’s application makes clear that she has every intention of hewing to the skewed mandate, one that according to Amnesty International is inherently biased against the Jewish state, unique in the UN system for its exclusive focus on alleged abuses committed by one side — Israel. In contempt of basic due process, the tainted mandate presumes that Israel will always be found guilty of “violations.”

The panel’s second-ranked contestant is London School of Economics professor Christine Chinkin, mastermind of the notoriously one-sided Goldstone Report. Given that she has twice before delivered for the council’s all-powerful Arab lobby, Chinkin is likely to be their darling.

The final candidate is John Cerone, a professor at the New England School of Law. Though he did not rank in UN Watch’s rogues’ gallery, Cerone’s objectivity is called into question not only by his willingness to take on a selective and politicized mandate.

When the Palestinian Authority applied for UN statehood — in violation of its Oslo Accord undertaking not to take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations — Cerone rushed to Ramallah’s defense.

The appointment will be announced by the council president in late March. Governments that truly believe in the principles of human rights should call for the entire mandate to be canceled.







Phyllis Bennis: “The Palestinians, they were not the Nazis, they were not responsible for the Holocaust, but they were the ones who paid the price.”





Christine Chanet: “It is very difficult to have a real dialogue with Israel,” which practices “total discrimination.”

Michael Mansfield: “One thing will turn Israel around… stop bankrolling Israel. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Its source of income is going to dry up.”







William Schabas: “Let us put an end to the lie that the United Nations is against Israel. Actually, Israel has had a relatively soft ride at the United Nations, largely because it is protected by you know-who…”     






Jan Wijenberg: “Israeli ideology and goals, translated into action by the government, are aimed at removing all Palestinians from the ‘promised land.’ In the case of Gaza, Israel used a variety of tools that lead to creeping genocide.”

About the Author
Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization in Geneva, Switzerland. An international lawyer, Neuer has been described by the Tribune de Genève as a human rights activist who is “feared and dreaded” by the world’s dictatorships. Israel's Ma’ariv newspaper ranked Neuer as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Jewish People in the World.” Hillel Neuer is a renowned speaker who has published widely, testified before the United Nations and the U.S. Congress, and appeared on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. On September 14, 2016, the City of Chicago adopted a resolution declaring “Hillel Neuer Day” in recognition of his work as “one of the world’s foremost human rights advocates.” In June 2018, McGill University awarded Neuer with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, citing his work as “an innovator” in “creating global platforms for courageous dissidents and champions of human rights from around the world,” and for being “a passionate advocate for human rights, fighting tirelessly against discrimination, torture, and injustice."