Impotent leadership at the United Nations

The United Nations, an organization of governments created in 1945 following World War II, was meant to foster international cooperation between members and prevent cycles of violence and bloodshed. Its leader is the secretary general of the organization. Currently the post is held by a Korean national, Ban Ki-moon, who assumed the post in 2007.

Unlike his predecessors, Ban Ki-moon has displayed a propensity to disavow and brush off charges of savage and brutal attacks, and particularly those directed at children as was demonstrated in the Israeli assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014.

In his latest act of cowardice, Ban Ki-moon has removed the Israeli military from the official list of violators of children’s rights, a list the UN puts out every year and which carries certain sanctions for erring states. Israeli war crimes were public knowledge to viewers of media coverage of the carnage that was carried out against Palestinian residents in Gaza last summer. Live TV reports showed the calculated targeting of Palestinian women and children during the assault, an act that drew worldwide condemnation from people with moral conscience. At least 557 children were among the reported victims of the Israeli intrusion into Palestinian territories.

So why has the UN’s chief administrative officer decided to shield these war crimes? Is he condoning the murder of those 557 souls who were victims of Israeli brutality?   In doing so, he specifically overruled a recommendation by his own appointed special representative for children and armed conflicts, as well as recommendations from several leading international human rights organizations who were aghast at Israel’s targeted brutality.

Reacting to such a diabolical move by the UN chief, Brad Parker, attorney and international advocacy officer at Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) was not amused. Speaking to The Electronic Intifada, an independent online news publication and educational resource focusing on Palestine, Parker said: “The revelation that Israel’s armed forces were removed from the annex of the annual report by Ban Ki-moon is deplorable. The annual report and its annex, or children’s ‘list of shame,’ has been a strong evidence-based accountability tool proven to help increase protection for children in armed conflict situations. There is ample evidence of persistent grave violations committed by Israeli forces since at least 2006 that should have triggered listing.”

Deeply concerned, Parker added: “The secretary-general’s decision to place politics above justice and accountability for Palestinian children has provided Israeli forces with tacit approval to continue committing grave violations against children with impunity.”

Human Rights Watch an international non-governmental organization that “conducts research and advocacy on human rights” had earlier called on Ban to “list all countries and armed groups that have repeatedly committed these violations, and resist reported pressure from Israel and the United States to remove Israel from the draft list.” The NGO highlighted as part of Israel’s record the “unlawful killing of children” in the occupied West Bank, including the names of children shot dead by Israeli snipers on 15 May 2014.

In April, a board of inquiry set up by Ban himself concluded after exhaustive research that Israel had indeed killed and injured hundreds of Palestinians in seven attacks on United Nations-run schools in the Gaza Strip last summer. What was so cold-hearted about that was that the targeting appeared to be intentional.

But Ban Ki-moon has indeed failed to live up to the expectations of neutrality. He succumbed to Israeli and US pressure to get Israel off the hook again and he did so compliantly. The Electronic Intifada reports that at the height of last summer’s Israeli attack on Gaza, 129 organizations and distinguished individuals wrote to the secretary-general, condemning him for “your biased statements, your failure to act, and the inappropriate justification of Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law, which amount to war crimes.” They charged that his sustained bias against Israeli censure made him a “partner” in Israel’s crimes.

This latest brazen cover-up will just add to the list of fraudulent practices by an impotent UN leadership.