UN Watch welcomes the report on the issue of human rights of victims of terrorism, A/HRC/19/38, which is before us today. We support the exchange of information on efforts made at the international level to protect the rights of victims of terrorism and their families.
Terrorism does not grow in a vacuum. It breeds on a ground of hatred. It thrives in an atmosphere that teaches extremism, and that legitimizes violence against civilians.
This Council is the world’s highest human rights body. As such, it has the unique ability—through its sessions, resolutions and experts—to send the opposite message. It can educate the hearts and minds of millions with the message that the deliberate killing of civilians is wrong—that terrorism is illegal, immoral and a violation of the right to life. It can show sympathy and support for the victims.
And so we ask: how has the Council responded to acts of terrorism? What messages has it sent? Is its current approach helping victims?
Let us consider the record. Over the past decade, terrorist attacks were perpetrated in New York, in London, in Madrid, in Mumbai, in Iraq and in Jerusalem. These attacks, and many more, were carried out in the name of an extremist religious ideology. Thousands of innocents were killed.
How many urgent sessions did this Council convene to condemn these atrocities? Not one.
How many inquiries were created? Not one.
How many resolutions were adopted in response to these attacks? Not one.
Instead, when justice was served on Osama Bin Laden, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay questioned this act.
Instead, after staying silent when Hamas and Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets against civilians, this Council convened sessions, inquiries and reports condemning the victim for defending itself.
Instead, this Council appointed an expert, Richard Falk, whom the Palestinian Authority itself has accused of being “a partisan of Hamas.”
To protect the human rights of victims of terrorism, it is time to adopt a new approach.
Thank you, Mr. President.
UN Watch testimony before the UN Human Rights Council, 19th Session, March 5, 2012, Geneva, delivered by executive director Hillel Neuer.