Saturday, 18 June, 2016

U.N. Leader Cites Funding Threat in Removing Saudi Coalition From List of Rights Violators

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The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said removing the Saudis from a list of children’s rights violators was “one of the most painful and difficult decisions I have had to make.” Credit Murad Sezer/Reuters

The leader of the United Nations said on Thursday that he had removed the Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Yemen from an annual list of violators of children’s rights because the Saudis and their allies had threatened to withhold funding to the organization.

“This was one of the most painful and difficult decisions I have had to make,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at a news conference.

Saudi Arabia, one of the most generous donors to United Nations humanitarian causes, denied Mr. Ban’s assertions. Nonetheless, his remarks amounted to a stark admission of the limits of the secretary general’s influence.

Mr. Ban was addressing an uproar caused on Monday after he scrubbed the coalition, which has been bombing Yemen for 15 months, from the annex, or appendix, to an annual report by United Nations investigators called “Children and Armed Conflict.”

The annex, a list of shame naming countries and groups that violate children’s rights, found that the Saudi coalition had been responsible for most of the child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year.

On Monday, United Nations officials described the removal of the coalition as a temporary measure to give the Saudis and their allies an opportunity to challenge the conclusions. But Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah bin Yahya Almouallimi, contradicted them, saying the deletion was irreversible.

Regardless, human rights groups denounced Mr. Ban’s decision as a capitulation that undermined the credibility of the United Nations in applying impartial standards in accounting for the behavior of all member states.

On Thursday, Mr. Ban acknowledged the “fierce reaction to my decision to temporarily remove the Saudi-led coalition countries from the report’s annex.”

Speaking to reporters at a news briefing, he cast the decision as one that considered the greater good of the United Nations.

“Because of this, you cannot burn down the whole house,” Mr. Ban said.

He said he had to consider “the very real prospect that millions of other children would suffer grievously if, as was suggested to me, countries would defund many U.N. programs.”

At the same time, Mr. Ban said he stood by the annual report’s conclusions, and he indirectly chided the Saudis and their allies.

“It is unacceptable for member states to exert undue pressure,” Mr. Ban said. “Scrutiny is a natural and necessary part of the work of the United Nations.”

Speaking later outside the Security Council chambers, the Saudi ambassador rejected Mr. Ban’s assertions as unfounded.

“We did not use threats or intimidation and we did not talk about funding,” he told reporters

1 Comment

  1. Amir

    June 14, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    Oh god, I am trying to come up with a reasonable answer to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, about the above article that respectfully contains my outrage. Well, I have nothing that would promote such defiance. One question will reserve the outrage, what kind of UN we have that the rights of all nations are limited to five members of a council named “Security council”? Saudi led coalition in Yemen for sure is an act of inhumanity to all the people in Yemen and its defenseless children but unfortunately money is the mother of all. Ki-Moon said it, “I can’t forgive them but I will try to forget it.”

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