Sunday, April 02, 2006

UN Reform Requires Non-Governmental Organisation Reform

Israel advocates have long understood the problem with NGO's relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. KIC has frequently mentioned their inaccuracies inherent in a bias system of reporting which leads to more innocent bodies utilising information that is basically incorrect. NGO monitor is at the forefront of the fight against these organisation's and the lies that they proliferate. (If you are wondering the picture on the right is of a poster handed out at a UN NGO forum)
Yisrael Kasnett writes a good analysis this problem in the context of United Nations reform.
"On March 15, 2006, the network of powerful NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that includes Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, joined with recidivist human rights abusers such as Sudan, Libya, and Saudi Arabia to support the UN’s new Human Rights Council. These regimes vehemently opposed serious reform knowing this would expose them to close scrutiny; and the debate on this reform was intense, with some countries – primarily the U.S. and Israel – arguing that the proposal did not go far enough in ensuring that the failures of the old Human Rights Commission would not continue in the new body.

NGOs have played a leading role under the old and failed Human Rights Commission and have long enjoyed direct access and influence to the various UN bodies. Protected by the “halo” effect and their unaccountability, the NGO network was central to the disastrous 2001 Durban Conference on Racism, which was prepared under the auspices of the UNCHR. At Durban, NGOs largely ignored the issues for which the conference was called, focusing instead on intense anti-Israel advocacy, and initiating the “Durban strategy,” an NGO campaign to undermine Israel that continues to reverberate in calls for divestment, sanctions and boycotts.

As part of this process, the unverifiable and biased reports published by the multi-million dollar NGOs HRW and AI, contributed to the disproportionate Israel bashing during the annual sessions of the UNCHR. As detailed research by NGO Monitor has shown, these NGOs often use human rights rhetoric to pursue political campaigns, systematically stripping the context of terror from their reports, and relying on eyewitness claims that lack credibility. HRWÂ’s institutional bias was clearly demonstrated by its highly disproportionate allocation of its Middle East resources in 2004 to attacks against Israel.

In other words, NGOs are not part of the solution – they are part of the problem in the UN. With over 2,700 NGOs accredited with consultative status under the Economic and Social Council, the UN is a breeding ground for anti-Israel activity and bias. Guided by the superpowers such as AI and HRW, these influential NGOs use their consultative status in ECOSOC to disseminate false and unsubstantiated allegations against Israel. They highly misrepresent factual information and completely ignore the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to promote their own ideological and political agendas.

It is therefore not surprising that these NGOs endorsed the new Council framework and failed to weigh in on behalf of serious UN reform. In criticizing the U.S. and Ambassador John Bolton for demanding more, Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, and a frequent contributor to anti-Israel bias in the UN said, "It obviously doesn‘t do everything we hoped for, but it is clearly better than the Human Rights Commission.”

Similarly, Amnesty International has also adopted this minimalist approach. The Secretary General of AI, Irene Khan stated "the U.S. administration should not jeopardize the best chance in decades to establish a more effective UN human rights body." Neither HRW nor AI showed any contrition regarding the role their organizations played in reinforcing the anti-democratic political biases under the previous UN Human Rights Commission.

NGOs fear diminished status in the UN and ultimately are afraid of losing the influence they currently enjoy. Thorough reform, NGOs argue, will hinder NGO efforts and lessen their impact on UN decisions and resolutions by reducing their accessibility to the various UN bodies. This may sound noble but in reality, NGOs have played a very negative role by exploiting the rhetoric of universal human rights to advance their own narrow ideological and political agendas. Largely as a result of campaigning by NGOs, Israel is consistently singled out for condemnation in the UNCHR, is the focus of disproportionate and biased resolutions in the General Assembly and is the only country in the UN that has not been given full membership to its regional group as obligated under the UN Charter.
Thus, the discussions on much needed UN reform must also include NGO reform. Serious NGOs can help the decision-making process in the UN in some cases but not when they merely exploit access to this body to promote conflict. Furthermore, NGOs must be held accountable and organizations that lack balance and use their funds for propaganda rather than for independent research, should not receive automatic access.
The NGOs most suitable for working in conjunction with the UN body and its subsidiaries are those that are objective, unbiased and have no ideological and political agendas. These organizations can positively contribute to conflict resolution in the UN, through fair and substantiated reports based on accurate knowledge using credible sources. The Human Rights Council will differentiate itself from its discredited predecessor not through minor inconsequential adjustments, but via a major break with the past and accompanied by serious NGO reform."

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