UN rights chief reversal on anti-Semitic Arab charter
In an unprecedented reversal, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has backed off from her earlier endorsement of an Arab text calling for the “elimination” of Zionism, in response to a UN Watch protest. News of the controversy was covered internationally, sparking a series of Canadian newspaper editorials critical of Ms. Arbour’s initial statement and her overall handling of the affair.
Following is a timeline of the events as they unfolded around the globe.
Jan. 24, 2008, Geneva: High Commissioner Arbour issues an official statement: “I welcome the 7th ratification required to bring the Arab Charter on Human Rights into force... the Arab Charter on Human Rights is an important step forward [to] help strengthen the enjoyment of human rights.” At U.N. headquarters in New York, Marie Okabe, spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, highlights Arbour’s statement. When asked, she does not have the text of the charter.
Jan. 25, 2008, United Arab Emirates: The Arab world takes note of Arbour’s support for the Arab Charter, prominently featured in this article by the United Arab Emirates news agency.
Jan. 28, 2008, Geneva: UN Watch is the first to speak out, exposing the hateful provisions in the Arab Charter, and demanding action from Arbour. UN Watch sends her a detailed letter:...[click on link for full description]
Jan. 30, 2008, Geneva & New York: Arbour changes course. Now she asserts that various Arab Charter provisions are “incompatible” with international norms. The UN headquarters in New York issues a new release, entitled “Arab rights charter deviates from international standard.”
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