By Stuart Littlewood, Redress Information & Analysis – 18 sept 2009
Stuart Littlewood views the outgoing president of the UN General Assembly’s damning indictment in which he described as “disgraceful” the “passivity and apparent indifference of some highly influential members of the Security Council to the fact that the blockade of Gaza has continued uninterrupted for two years, in flagrant violation of international law and of the resolution of the Security Council itself”.
Outgoing United Nations General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockman says he was obstructed by leading UN members from trying to improve the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
“My greatest frustration this year has been the Palestine situation,” he told the 192-nation assembly in his final address on 14 September before handing over the one-year presidency to Libyan diplomat Ali Treki.
He found it “disgraceful” the way influential members of the UN Security Council had shown “passivity and apparent indifference” about the long and cruel Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Fr Miguel is not your usual time-serving career diplomat. In 1961 was ordained a priest in the Catholic church. In 1962, he obtained a Master of Science degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism (Pulitzer Institute). He served for over a decade as Nicaragua’s minister of foreign affairs, during which he spearheaded his government’s claim in the International Court of Justice against the United States for supporting military and paramilitary actions against his country. The court ruled in Nicaragua’s favour.
Not only a man of words, then, but a man of action.
UN’s lack of commitment in resolving the Palestine question “a scandal”
Palestinians in particular, and those concerned about foreign affairs in general, will find the unedited version of his parting speech, where it relates to the Holy Land, well worth reading:
My greatest frustration this year has been the Palestine situation. The question of Palestine continues to be the most serious and prolonged unresolved political and human rights issue on the agenda of the United Nations since its inception. The evident lack of commitment for resolving it is a scandal that has caused me much sorrow.
I promised a proactive presidency, and sincerely believe that I did everything I possibly could in this regard, requesting and attempting to persuade those who should have been most closely involved to call for the convocation of the General Assembly to consider the Palestine situation. However, whether at the time of the three-week invasion of Gaza that began on 27 December or now, all I received was advice to give the process more time, because things were always on the point of being resolved and we should do nothing that could endanger the success that was always just beyond our reach.
Faced with this situation, I sincerely did not know what to do. I wanted to help Palestine, but those who should supposedly have been most interested denied their support for reasons of “caution” that I was incapable of understanding. I hope that they were right and that I was wrong. Otherwise, we face an ugly situation of constant complicity with the aggression against the rights of the noble and long-suffering Palestinian people.
A just resolution of the question of Palestine must be based on the content of international law, and will only be attained when the unity of the Palestinian people has been achieved and the international community speaks with all its representatives who enjoy credibility and have been democratically elected. In addition to the withdrawal of the Israelis from all territories illegally occupied since 1967, international law demands that all Palestinians displaced during the creation of the State of Israel, their children and grandchildren, be permitted to return to their homeland of Palestine.
My chief consultant on humanitarian affairs, Dr Kevin Cahill, was sent to Gaza from 17 to 22 February to prepare a report on the humanitarian situation in Gaza immediately after the aggression. Dr Cahill’s report was issued on Wednesday 19 August, on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day commemorating the sacrifices of United Nations staff in conflict zones; it had originally been intended for release at a Special Session on Gaza, but that did not take place for the reasons mentioned.
I find disgraceful the passivity and apparent indifference of some highly influential members of the Security Council to the fact that the blockade of Gaza has continued uninterrupted for two years, in flagrant violation of international law and of the resolution of the Security Council itself, causing immense damage and suffering to the Palestinian population of Gaza. This situation threatens to become even more serious if immediate measures are not taken, now that winter is approaching. Now is the time to demonstrate, with actions and not simply words, a true commitment to the concept of the responsibility to protect.
I hope Fr Miguel will tell us the names of those “highly influential members” who showed “disgraceful passivity and indifference” in the face of such appalling human suffering. The world needs to identify and dispose of these contemptible deadbeats in high places.
Were any of them British? We in the UK are well aware that our Foreign Office, and indeed the whole fabric of our government, is infected with Israel’s stooges and others with no moral fibre. These snivelers mouth words of condemnation and wring their hands but never take firm action. They disgrace us all.
Law of the jungle rules, OK?
Elsewhere in his speech Fr Miguel made this remarkable observation:
…the whole world knows that, among many other truths, some of our most powerful and influential member states definitely do not believe in the rule of law in international relations and are of the view, moreover, that complying with the legal norms to which we formally commit, when signing the [UN] Charter, is something that applies only to weak countries. With such a low level of commitment, it should not be surprising that the United Nations has been unable to achieve the main objectives for which it was created.
Certain member states think that they can act according to the law of the jungle, and defend the right of the strongest to do whatever they feel like with total and absolute impunity, and remain accountable to no one.
It is not recorded whether these words received the applause they deserved.
Farewell, Fr Miguel, and good hunting. You gave it your best shot, unlike others. Please don’t leave the scene altogether.
Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.