Envoy urges UN to quit Quartet over lack of regard for human rights
By Reuters, Oct 16, 2007, 14:36
The United Nations should pull out of the Quartet of Middle East mediators unless the group starts taking Palestinian human rights seriously, a UN envoy said on Monday.
John Dugard, the UN special rapporteur on human rights for the Palestinian territories, told the BBC the world body “does itself little good” by remaining in the Quartet group of the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations.
“In my most recent report to the General Assembly…I will suggest that the secretary general withdraw the UN from the Quartet, if the Quartet fails to have regard to the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories,” Dugard said.
Dugard, who is due to present the report next month, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The South African, who has served in the independent post since 2001, said Israel Defense Forces checkpoints in the occupied West Bank were meant to divide the territory into “cantons” and “make the life of Palestinians as miserable as possible”.
The IDF says its network of West Bank checkpoints, which Palestinians call collective punishment, are necessary to stop suicide bombers.
Dugard’s comments echoed searing allegations from a former UN Middle East envoy who said in June after leaving the post that UN policy in the region had failed because it was subservient to U.S. and Israeli interests.
Alvaro de Soto upbraided the Quartet for failing the Palestinians and also urged the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to “seriously reconsider” continued UN membership in the group.
Dugard said the Quartet was “heavily influenced” by the United States, and criticized Western powers for backing Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction while maintaining a crippling boycott of Islamist group Hamas.
“The international community has given its support almost completely to one faction, the Fatah faction,” he said. “That’s not the role the UN should take.”
Dugard was skeptical that the U.S.-sponsored peace conference set to take place in Maryland next month would succeed in bridging Israeli and Palestinian differences on creating a Palestinian state.
He warned of “serious consequences” if expectations are not met, raising the possibility of a third Palestinian uprising, or intifada, against Israel.
“Inevitably in a military occupation, there are likely to be those engaged in resistance,” he said, noting that history may treat those deemed “terrorists” differently.