‘Things are very wrong at the United Nations if serial violators of international law can bully member states into disinviting human rights defenders from addressing the Security Council.
That is what happened when Belgium caved in to Israeli pressure and effectively barred Brad Parker from describing grave abuses of Palestinian children’s rights at the UN body this week.
In January, Parker was invited by Belgium, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, to brief its members on Israeli violations of Palestinian children’s rights in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Parker “gladly accepted,” given that “civil society space” at the UN for local Palestinian groups like the one he represents “has been shrinking for years.”
Israeli diplomats soon mobilized to pressure Belgium to rescind the invitation and prevent Parker from speaking. Israel’s foreign ministry twice summoned a Belgian diplomat to formally request that Parker be disinvited.
Then came a political and media smear campaign that portrayed Parker as a “radical” and his organization as affiliated with terror – an allegation Israeli officials frequently lob at Palestinian human rights groups and their staff to undermine their advocacy work.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN even wrote a letter to the UN secretary-general describing Defense for Children International Palestine as “an arm of the [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] in order to enact diplomatic terror against Israel.”