Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Saturday, 11 February 2012

David Singer On His UNESCO Petition & His Facebook Group "Help Restore UNESCO's Funding"

In his latest article (entitled "UNESCO On The Nose") via the antipodean J-Wire service, Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer pinpoints five main reasons for opposition to his petition from some perhaps unexpected quarters, and urges a rethink on the part of those who have proved reluctant to sign.  He also draws attention to a group he has set up on Facebook, called "Help Restore UNESCO's Funding" and urges readers to join.

Writes David Singer:

'UNESCO seems set to preside over a looming global humanitarian crisis as it continues to struggle in its efforts to cope with the loss of  $260 million – 22% of its projected budget – until the end of 2013.
Trying to make up the shortfall – including lobbying America and Israel to resume the payment of their dues and establishing an Emergency Fund to solicit donations from its other 193 member states and the public at large – have clearly failed so far.

UNESCO‘s finds itself in this sorry situation because of its decision to admit “Palestine“ as its 195th Member State on 31 October last.

In an effort to recoup the shortfall – I have proposed to UNESCO that it approach the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on whether the requirements of UNESCO’s Constitution were satisfied in admitting “Palestine”.

If the Court rules that the provisions of the Constitution were complied with – then this avenue as a means of recouping the $260 million would be closed – but the provisions of the Constitution would have been judicially interpreted to prevent a repeat of the current controversy when dealing with other applications to join UNESCO in the future.

If however the Court found the decision to be unconstitutional – then the $260 million would start to flow into UNESCO’s coffers immediately and the emerging global crisis impacting on scores of millions of people world wide would be averted.

Faced with continuing UNESCO resistance to discuss my detailed submission to it on 1 December last – I started an online petition on 1 January seeking public support for this proposal – which has so far attracted more than 1000 signatures from people in 26 countries. Please also sign it if you agree with the views expressed in this article.

What has been surprising – and very disturbing – has been the opposition expressed to signing my petition – which I have been able to attribute to five main reasons gleaned from the responses received so far to my proposal:
  • Some have expressed their utter contempt for UNESCO and its continued existence – suggesting it has become ineffectual and politicized and should be shut down.
    They delight in the financial difficulties being faced by UNESCO – which they see as a self-serving organization that exists to feed an over bloated bureaucracy of overpaid and well travelled employees – rather than spending its budget on helping the hundreds of millions of people world wide who are crying out for some hope to relieve their distressing lives.
  • Some Americans are supportive of their country’s decision to stop the payment of  its financial dues – automatically suspended as a result of an American law dating back to the 1990’s which prescribed such action should any UN agency act as UNESCO did.
These people are more than happy to see this money – about $100million yearly – go towards helping America solve its own pressing domestic financial problems.
They are hostile to UNESCO‘s lobbying attempts to try and get America to change its law or to otherwise circumvent the legislation to get America‘s dues back via some back door manoeuvre.
  • Some have shown a total lack of concern or compassion for the difficulties facing hundreds of millions of people world wide if UNESCO is forced to curtail its humanitarian assistance.
This attitude was succinctly expressed in the following comment:
“Palestine suffers from the actions of the world, the world can suffer from Palestine for once”
  • Some have expressed no confidence in the International Court being able to arrive at a fair and unbiased opinion – a waste of time and money
  • By far the largest number of those refusing to sign the petition are those who are opposed to UNESCO taking any steps that could possibly lead to Palestine’s admission to UNESCO being ruled unconstitutional.
People are entitled to their viewpoints – and to be criticised for holding those views. I have urged many expressing these views to think again and sign the petition – but to no avail.

UNESCO cannot allow its decision on Palestine – and its dire consequences – to simply end in UNESCO cutting its programs and its employees for 2102-2013 in accordance with a drastically revised budget – until it has explored every option to avoid this happening.

The consequences of such program cutting will clearly impact on the lives of millions of people world-wide.  UNESCO would be clearly irresponsible if it failed to take any possible action available to arrest this emerging humanitarian landslide.

Spending $100000 approaching the International Court in the hope of  avoiding  this parlous situation is an option that UNESCO should grab with both hands.

The International Court cannot possibly hope to satisfy all of the above objectors.

If  Palestine’s admission to UNESCO is found to be lawful –  those espousing the views in groups 3 and 5 above will be happy and the rest will not . The status quo now existing will be maintained.

If Palestine’s admission to UNESCO is found to be unlawful – only those in group 4 may be persuaded to rethink their view of the International Court.  None of the other 4 groups will be happy – but the status quo existing at 30 October 2011 will be restored – for better or for worse.

UNESCO should not be afraid to institute such legal action for fear of upsetting these objectors – since the number of people signing and still continuing to sign my petition clearly outnumber those opposed to signing it.

I have been encouraged by such response to set up a Facebook group called “Help Restore UNESCO’s Funding”.

I urge everyone – in favour of or opposed to UNESCO approaching the International Court – to join, have their say and to follow developments as they unfold at UNESCO and in the international arena..

UNESCO needs to be very careful that it does not create the impression that it can ignore its own constitution with impunity. Its failure to even discuss my detailed submission on the legality of its decision renders it open to such a charge and only serves to  reduce its status and credibility among those signing the petition.
Seeking to resolve the current impasse by resorting to the law is not a known or an accepted practice in a large number of the 195 member states that make up UNESCO – where the rule of law and respect for the law in such countries is unknown.

Approaching the International Court in the present circumstances will help these states understand this still remains the best system yet devised for finally resolving issues between people with different viewpoints.

The law is not perfect and its decisions are often controversial and open to criticism and different interpretations.

However it beats bullets, demonstrations and dying, tear gas and trauma – hands down.'

13 comments:

  1. UN organizations have no rule or law or principle that they need follow except to foment another Holocaust. That's essentially the UN's only role.

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  2. Isn't the ICJ a hotbet of antisemitism ? It ruled that Israel's separation barrier is illegal.

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    1. What’s proposed would be within the jurisdiction of the ICJ. Unlike the OIC manipulated kangaroo court against Israel, that ultimately resulted in only a non binding advisory ruling.

      Read this:
      Dissenting Opinion of Judge Buergenthal (who agreed with most of the opinion but strongly disagreed with the conduct of the court)
      http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/dissent.html

      Ian

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  3. To Empress Trudy

    I thought UNESCO was bound to act legally - not illegally.

    UNESCO is not above the law and must ensure it always acts in accordance with the law.

    That is why this particular decision to admit Palestine must be judicially reviewed - since there is a strong argument that it breached the provisions of UNESCO's constitution.

    That UNESCO even refuses to discuss this opinion is very strange. If it is correct then UNESCO's financial crisis could end overnight.

    Given UNESCO has lost $226 million to 2013 - you think it would be interested in seeing whether this opinion has merit or not.

    They obviously don't give a damn - happy to consign scores of millions of people world wide to misery and hardship - when $100000 spent on going to the International Court could possibly help them out of the financial bind they find themselves in now.

    Go figure....

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  4. To Anonymous

    The International Court's advisory opinion on the security barrier was based on an incomplete brief presented to the Court by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan - which failed to include any reference to the Mandate for Palestine or article 80 of the UN Charter - two critical pieces of international law that were directly relevant to the security barrier issue.

    A court can only give an advisory opinion on the material presented to it.

    That is why one would have to be very careful in ensuring that UNESCO's request to the International Court for an advisory opinion on Palestine contained all the relevant material necessary to enable the court to reach a fair decision.

    At the moment this is theoretical only - since UNESCO appears totally disinterested in trying to rescue its organization by going down this route to try and save it from the financial disaster and humanitarian crisis it faces.

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  5. @ David Singer:

    "...UNESCO appears totally disinterested in trying to rescue its organization by going down this route to try and save it from the financial disaster and humanitarian crisis it faces"

    Am I too optimistic in thinking that UNESCO might see the end of the UN et al in its present ..ahem..."form", and think: "what's the use"?

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    1. I think you are a little too optimistic. UNESCO will continue to survive .. but in a severely truncated and less credible and influential form.

      You can't lose 22% of your budget and expect otherwise.

      Until that $100 million lost is replaced on an annual basis - then UNESCO must curtail or abandon many of its programs - as well as retrench scores of its employees.

      That it is not prepared to expend $100000 in trying to possibly stop the coming humanitarian rot indicates a stubborn streak that is only explicable for the following reason - a real fear that the Court might find Palestine's admission to UNESCO was unlawful.

      UNESCO's priority is clearly emerging as "Palestine" - - not the rest of the world.

      The longer UNESCO resists going to the International Court the more strongly this perception will be reinforced.

      I believe UNESCO is making a big mistake abandoning millions of people around the world who depend on it for a policy of "Palestine" at all costs - whether lawful or not".

      Would be interested to hear what others think.

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  6. Afterall It is Israel and the US who are opposed to the admission of Palestine. Why cannot they approach the ICJ ?

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    1. This option is not available to member states - only to UNESCO.

      The financial hole and looming global humanitarian crisis in which UNESCO now finds itself has been caused by UNESCO's decision to admit Palestine.

      UNESCO - as a UN agency - can possibly solve this crisis by approaching the Court - as a matter of right - for an advisory opinion on the legality of its decision.

      By the way 87 of the 194 countries in UNESCO did not vote affirmatively for the admission of Palestine. Many of those abstained and many didn't even turn up. They would all be entitled to say UNESCO's current problem was not of their making.

      Singling out Israel and the US seems a little mischievous. Try to be more objective.

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  7. I don't see how a non-entity gets a seat at the U.N. unless, of course, politics rules the roost. In which case, that is the bed which the U.N. made and they should sleep in it. Let's not forget how UNESCO money went to Palestinian publishers who exalted in the efforts of Hitler in their writings to Palestinian children.

    When the Palestinian leadership accepts peace and makes an effort to accept any of the 3 latest states offered by 3 different Israeli Prime Ministers, then they can get their seat at the U.N. and on UNESCO. Of course, that's a tricky deal in which Palestinian leadership will have to give up on violence and their goals of "destroying the Zionist entity".

    Then again, a new state of Palestine would end up replacing the failed status of UNRWA, deliverers of billions of dollars in aid every year while maintaining refugee camps and international funding.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but if the U.N. is going to constantly avoid the realities of Israel's existence and her peace efforts, then there is absolutely no reason to continue funding its current efforts.

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    1. You express one of the the anti-petition views I referred to in my article - let UNESCO and Palestine wallow in the quicksand.

      I don't think that is the correct view to take.

      UNESCO cannot be seen to be acting illegally or condoning illegality.

      UNESCO's constitution only allows a "state" to become a member.

      Is "Palestine" a state? If not its admission to UNESCO is unconstitutional. That is one issue that the International Court needs to rule on.

      The other issue is whether 81 votes or 129 votes were required to admit Palestine to UNESCO. This needs to be judicially determined.

      It makes a big difference since 107 out of 194 states voted to admit Palestine.

      UNESCO has put up a wall of silence and has refused to even say whether they agree or disagree with my submission.

      I can only conclude they do not have any arguments to rebut my submission.

      Think again and sign the petition - and get your friends to do likewise.

      http://www.change.org/petitions/unesco-review-palestines-unconstitutional-membership

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  8. The US and Israel are opposed to the recognition. SHouldn't Israel approach the ICJ instead of Unesco ?

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  9. This option is not available to member states - only to UNESCO.

    The financial hole and looming global humanitarian crisis in which UNESCO now finds itself has been caused by UNESCO's decision to admit Palestine.

    UNESCO - as a UN agency - can possibly solve this crisis by approaching the Court - as a matter of right - for an advisory opinion on the legality of its decision.

    By the way 87 of the 194 countries in UNESCO did not vote affirmatively for the admission of Palestine. Many of those abstained and many didn't even turn up. They would all be entitled to say UNESCO's current problem was not of their making.

    Singling out Israel and the US seems a little mischievous. Try to be more objective.

    ReplyDelete