Withdraw UN BDS report, Canada demands
October 29, 2012 | Joanne Hill - Correspondent
The Canadian government has called for Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories, to withdraw his latest report or step down from his position.
Falk’s report, submitted at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, promotes boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and highlights potential legal actions that may be taken against companies and other stakeholders that do business with Israel, in the context of the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and its Global Compact.
It makes no mention of the governments of Hamas in Gaza or Fatah in the Palestinian Authority in its descriptions of the living conditions of the Palestinian people.
Rick Roth, press secretary for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said in a statement, “The latest report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian territories is both offensive and unhelpful but not overly surprising. Richard Falk has a long history of making outrageous statements and, frankly, has only tarnished the reputation and integrity of the United Nations.
“His comments by no means represent the position of the government of Canada. Canada has been clear that any unilateral action is ultimately unhelpful to a just and lasting peace for Israel and the Palestinians. Mr. Falk has not only done a disservice to the United Nations but also to the Palestinian people. Canada calls on Mr. Falk to either withdraw this biased and disgraceful report or resign from his position at the United Nations.”
The US governmenthas also rejected Falk’s report.
“His call for a boycott of private companies is irresponsible and unacceptable,” said Susan Rice, US permanent representative to the UN, in a statement. “Throughout his tenure as Special Rapporteur, Mr. Falk has been highly biased and made offensive statements, including outrageous comments on the 9/11 attacks.
“Mr. Falk’s recommendations do nothing to further a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and indeed poison the environment for peace. His continued service in the role of a UN Special Rapporteur is deeply regrettable and only damages the credibility of the UN.”
Falk’s report targets 13 specific companies for BDS that “constitute a small portion of a wide range of companies that have linked their business operations to Israel’s settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory” but states he may add to that list in future.
“The businesses include, inter alia, retailers and supermarket chains, fast food suppliers, wine producers and products that are often labelled ‘products of Israel,’ but are in reality produced or extracted from the occupied Palestinian territory,” the report stated, adding that “all companies that operate in or otherwise have dealings with Israeli settlements should be boycotted, until such time as they bring their operations fully into line with international human rights standards and practice.”
The report’s recommendations include a requirement that the Israeli government “publicly inform all businesses with operations in or related to its settlements of the international legal ramifications of such operations, including in relation to civil liability in third countries.”
It demands that such companies immediately suspend all operations “including the supply of products and services, which aid in the establishment or maintenance of Israeli settlements” and asks the “international community” to seek an opinion from the International Court of Justice in regard to the legal responsibilities of such businesses.