Secret NGO Testimony Clouds UN Flotilla Report
Human Rights Council Refuses to Disclose Witnesses, NGOs that Contributed to Report
JERUSALEM – The UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC) report on the flotilla incident, to be released next week, is based on secret and unverifiable allegations, and is therefore no more than hearsay, finds NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institution. The HRC-appointed “fact-finding mission” will submit a draft of the report to the Council during the Fifteen Session currently underway in Geneva.
“The fact finding mission met with numerous political advocacy NGOs and interviewed hundreds of witnesses from different countries, but it refuses to disclose any of these names or their statements,” says Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “The UN and this report have no legitimacy if the sources of the allegations and narrative are hidden. Unfortunately, this is indicative of the general lack of transparency surrounding NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict, in particular at the UN.”
The Goldstone fact finding mission, also established by the HRC, on the 2008-2009 Gaza war was cloaked in secrecy as well. Repeated inquiries to the Mission’s office and Mr. Goldstone himself regarding the contributors to that report (September 2009) were ignored. The manner in which the HRC is now hiding the sources of the flotilla report shows no change.
“The UN is required to adhere to the highest standards of transparency, particularly when it relates to an inquiry such as this,” adds NGO Monitor legal advisor, Anne Herzberg. “Instead, by not releasing the names of NGOs and individuals involved, the UN is yet again complicit in the overall secrecy of NGO operations. It is but another example of the bias that plagues the Human Rights Council and highlights the moral failings of those organizations that collaborate with it.”
Chaired by Karl Hudson-Phillips, former justice on the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the fact-finding mission has interviewed witnesses and ambassadors in London, Geneva, Amman, and Istanbul.
“We have no choice but to condemn the manner in which the UN conducted this inquiry,” adds Steinberg. “When highly political NGOs are among the main sources of allegations, and their roles are entirely secret, without any accountability for their claims, the entire process is invalid and immoral. This is another case showing the degree to which NGOs and their UN partners have appropriated the rhetoric of human rights and democracy while violating these core values.”