UN’s Ban Ki-Moon Caves In, Takes Israel Off List of Serious Child Abusers

By Ali Abunimah

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has caved in to pressure from Israel and the United States and taken the Israeli military off an official list of serious violators of children’s rights, in this year’s report on children in armed conflict.

In doing so, Ban rejected an official recommendation from his own Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui and numerous human rights organizations and child rights defenders.

Ban’s act is particularly egregious since the report found that the number of children killed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2014, at 557, was the third highest only after Iraq and Afghanistan and ahead of Syria.
“The revelation that Israel’s armed forces were removed from the annex of the annual report by Ban Ki-moon is deplorable,” Brad Parker, attorney and international advocacy officer at Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine), told The Electronic Intifada.

“The annual report and its annex, or children’s ‘list of shame,’ has been a strong evidence-based accountability tool proven to help increase protections for children in armed conflict situations. There is ample evidence on persistent grave violations committed by Israeli forces since at least 2006 that should have triggered listing,” Parker added.

“The secretary-general’s decision to place politics above justice and accountability for Palestinian children has provided Israeli forces with tacit approval to continue committing grave violations against children with impunity,” Parker said.

The top UN official’s decision will be greeted with relief by the Obama administration, Israel and others concerned with ensuring such Israeli impunity.

Obama pressure

“The draft 2015 report prepared by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, recommended adding Israel and Hamas to the annexed list of parties – the so-called ‘list of shame’ – due to their repeated violations against children,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement on 4 June.

Human Rights Watch called on Ban to “list all countries and armed groups that have repeatedly committed these violations, and resist reported pressure from Israel and the United States to remove Israel from the draft list.”

But that pressure proved irresistible to Ban. Foreign Policy reported last week that the Obama administration had made a concerted effort to pressure him to drop Israel from the list for cynical political reasons.

According to an unnamed UN official quoted by Foreign Policy, the Obama administration was concerned about false accusations that “the White House is anti-Israel,” as the US completes sensitive negotiations over Iran’s civilian nuclear energy program.

False balance

Human Rights Watch supported calls on Ban to list Hamas as well as Israel, but this appears to have been a maneuver to look “balanced” and avoid baseless accusations of anti-Israel bias frequently leveled at the organization.

Sources familiar with the final report have told The Electronic Intifada that Hamas is not on the list either.

But the violations attributed to Palestinian armed groups, including the death of one Israeli child last summer due to a rocket fired from Gaza, can hardly be compared in scope to the systematic mass killings with impunity of Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip and West Bank by Israeli occupation forces.

Since Hamas and other Palestinian armed resistance groups are already under international sanctions and arms embargoes and listed by various countries as “terrorist organizations,” adding Hamas to the list would have meant little.

It is Israel whose violations continue not only with impunity but with assistance from the predominantly European and North American governments that arm it.

DCI-Palestine documented the killings of at least 547 Palestinian children during last summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza.

Human Rights Watch cites as part of Israel’s record the “unlawful killing of children” in the occupied West Bank, including Nadim Nuwara and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, both 17, shot dead by snipers on 15 May 2014.

In April, a board of inquiry set up by Ban found that Israel killed and injured hundreds of Palestinians in seven attacks on United Nations-run schools in the Gaza Strip last summer.


In March, there was an outcry among Palestinian and international human rights advocates when it was revealed that UN officials appeared to be trying to sabotage the evidence-based process that leads to a recommendation of listing, after threats from Israel.

Palestinian organizations called on the mid-level UN officials accused of interfering with the process to resign.

This led to assurances from Special Representative Zerrougui that the decision-making process was still underway and indeed, after gathering all the evidence, Zerrougui did recommend that Israel be listed.

Such a recommendation comes after UN bodies collect evidence in collaboration with human rights organizations, according to specific criteria mandated in UN Security Council Resolution 1612.

But despite the months-long nonpolitical and evidence-based process, the final decision was always in Ban’s hands.

Partner in Israel’s crimes

There was much at stake for Israel and indeed for Ban if he had gone with the evidence instead of submitting to political pressure.

“Inclusion of a party on the secretary general’s list triggers increased response from the UN and potential Security Council sanctions, such as arms embargoes, travel bans, and asset freezes,” Human Rights Watch notes.

“For a country or armed group to be removed from the list, the UN must verify that the party has ended the abuses after carrying out an action plan negotiated with the UN.”

Ban has a long history of using his office to ensure that Israel escapes accountability except for the mildest verbal censures that are almost always “balanced” with criticism of those who live under Israeli occupation.

At the height of last summer’s Israeli attack on Gaza, 129 organizations and distinguished individuals wrote to the secretary-general, condemning him for “your biased statements, your failure to act, and the inappropriate justification of Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law, which amount to war crimes.”

Ban’s record, they said, made him a “partner” in Israel’s crimes. His latest craven decision will only cement that well-earned reputation.

While Israel will celebrate victory in the short-term, the long-term impact will likely be to further discredit the UN as a mechanism for accountability and convince more people of the need for direct popular pressure on Israel in the form of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).


© 2015 Electronic Intifada

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  1. dubinsky
    June 9, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    is Hamas on the list?

  2. June 9, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    Obviously, dub, once again you didn’t read it, eh…? 8-(

    To wit… “…adding Hamas to the list would have meant little.”

  3. dubinsky
    June 9, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    sorry, but “sources told the electronicintefada” that Hamas isnt on the list doesn’t mean much as that site is not reliable ….if you like truth rather than bullshh1t

  4. bsbafflesbrains
    June 9, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Feckless UN does it again. Israel killed many children and hard to call it collateral rather than purposeful. politics should NEVER dictate Human rights decisions esp regarding children’s issues.

  5. dubinsky
    June 9, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    don’t care about whether it means a little or a great deal, I ask if Hamas is on the list.

  6. Chris Maukonen
    June 9, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Pretty much puts a knife in the UN as far as I am concerned.

  7. June 9, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Oh my, dub, should I clutch my puka-shell necklace over your completely baseless smear of EI…? 😉

  8. dubinsky
    June 9, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    thanks for the laugh.


    that’s priceless, tuttle.

  9. Andy_Lewis
    June 10, 2015 at 1:20 am


  10. June 10, 2015 at 1:24 am

    The US certainly isn’t. Yet it’s, all around, the prime candidate.

  11. June 10, 2015 at 1:24 am

    What sources do you find reliable, dub?

  12. dubinsky
    June 10, 2015 at 1:26 am

    Haaretz, The Guardian, Lebanon’s Daily Star

  13. dubinsky
    June 10, 2015 at 1:30 am

    not really…….the US doesn’t deliberately try to kill random children. perhaps you’re enjoying having a surfeit of mucus…

    Aug, 2011

    15 people were killed, including 7 children, and about 130 were injured in a suicide bombing at the Sbarro pizzeria at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road in downtown Jerusalem. Concealing the explosives in a guitar case which he had carried with him into Jerusalem, the terrorist entered the restaurant just before 2 PM and detonated the bomb. The 5 kg.-10 kg. bomb, which was packed with nails, screws, and bolts to ensure maximum damage, completely gutted the restaurant, which was full of lunchtime diners.

    The terrorist was killed in the blast. His controller was on the list of wanted terrorists submitted by Israel to the Palestinians Authority this week. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

  14. June 10, 2015 at 1:51 am

    The gatekeepers of the western oligarchy’s power over the fragile, eggshell minds, of the sheeple.

    Read here, and then get back to me:

  15. dubinsky
    June 10, 2015 at 1:58 am

    thanks, it was a good read and nice essay, nice theory….nothing new, not likely that McCoy is correct in intimating that China is going places.

    possible, not probable.

  16. June 10, 2015 at 2:48 am

    the US doesn’t deliberately try to kill random children.

    I suppose they don’t ‘deliberately’ target kids, but, no big deal since they’re just all Collateral Damage, ho-hum nothing to see here…! *gah*

  17. dubinsky
    June 10, 2015 at 3:05 am

    I guess that I’m just silly to think that TRYING to kill kids is a far more vile sort of thing.

    I bow before your deeper ethical wisdom.

  18. June 10, 2015 at 3:10 am

    Let me guess. You’re a septuagenerian patriot, no longer capable of thinking for yourself.

    A useless, two bit factotum for the western, neoliberal/neocon .01%, regurgitating their self-serving and dismal, Main Stream Media propagandized world view, because you’re an average and mindless, conformist and cheerleading, heel-clicking and saluting, oligarchy fluffer-Joe.

    “Your” views are no more than rehashed Wolf Blitzer’s views. Why do you even bother?!

  19. dubinsky
    June 10, 2015 at 3:31 am

    your guesses suck, ape.

    but, that’s OK.

    we need everyone, not only the more perceptive people.

    I’m sure that you have a nice smile.

    (all else aside…sincere thanks for the link to McCoy’s essay)

  20. June 10, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Yeppers, the Israelis have always held the Palestinian youth to the strictest standards, eh…? Livni halts practice of placing detained Palestinian children in outdoor cages

    How benevolent of her, eh..,.? 8-(

  21. dubinsky
    June 10, 2015 at 10:59 am

    those kids ain’t in summer camp, champ.

    and if you wanna discuss benevolence, it ain’t really “looking out” for kids when Palestinians send them out to throw rocks at soldiers. it might make for good political theater to have children bleed for the cameras or get hauled off to jail, but it sure ain’t good for the kids.

  22. JohnRedican
    June 10, 2015 at 11:08 am

    “Inclusion of a party on the secretary general’s list triggers increased response from the UN and potential Security Council sanctions, such as arms embargoes, travel bans, and asset freezes,” Human Rights Watch notes”. This line made me chuckle. Israel is so deeply interwoven into American finance and government that an asset freeze is literally impossible.

  23. June 10, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Whew, you are warped, dub…! “good political theater”…?

  24. June 10, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    From MEMO today… 5 Palestinian children have been arrested by Israel every day for the past 48 years

    Data provided by the Israeli military and the UN has revealed that
    since martial law was imposed on the occupied West Bank in 1967, around
    95,000 Palestinian children have been arrested by Israel, an average of
    more than 5 children per day. Almost 60,000 are believed to have been
    subjected to some form of physical abuse whilst in detention.

    The details were revealed this week in a report submitted by rights group Military Court Watch(MCW) to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Over 300 pages of evidence
    relating to the treatment of Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention were included in the report.

    MCW pointed out that the evidence included details of 200 minors detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank between January 2013 and May 2015. The submission confirmed an earlier finding by UNICEF that”the ill-treatment of children, who come in contact with the military detention system, appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalised.”

    According to the rights group, this finding is based on recent evidence that shows that intimidation, threats, verbal abuse, physical violence and the denial of basic legal rights are still commonplace within the system. “Based on the evidence, the submission also drew a link between this industrial scale abuse and the maintenance of Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” added MCW. “It concluded that in order toenable 370,000 Israeli settlers to live in the West Bank in violation
    of international law without serious interference, the military is required to adopt a strategy of mass intimidation and collective punishment.”

  25. dubinsky
    June 10, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    np, it ain’t me who is warped…it the Palestinian adults who send those children out to throw rocks at men with guns.

    were you not ethically obtuse you would see how vile it is.

  26. peacelover2345
    June 10, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    The above article, copied from the Electronic Intifada, can hardly be called impartial. The language against Israel is biased and overwrought. It takes the word of Hamas on the numbers dead and ignores the reason that Israel counter attacked the areas within Gaza. There is NO WAY to fight Hamas EXCEPT where HAMAS chooses to fight from.

    Does the UN list include the US for the children killed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq? Does it include Russia for the children killed in Ukraine? What about Saudi Arabia for the children it killed in Yemen and Bahrain?

  27. peacelover2345
    June 10, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Some people, me included, would call you a biased fool who is unable to think clearly for himself.

    If an article or comment says something BAD, about Israel or any other of your “bad guys”, it MUST be honest, upstanding and correct. However, if it says something GOOD, about Israel or any other of your “bad guys”, well then it must lying self-serving and dismal, and pushing the Main Stream Media propagandized world view.

    You belong to a small clique of mindless lefties who cheer anarchists and Islamic terrorists, IF they call themselves Resistance or Revolutionaries figting occupation and/or oppression. Facts be damned,. It is the LABELS that govern all your world views.

    You are nothing but a mindless robot, parroting mushy thoughts and propaganda. You are one of those Stalin termed ” useful idiots”.

  28. June 10, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    O wow, an apologist for the dismal global oligarchy. Whoppee!

    Did you even read at the link I furnished, or is mindlessly parading the hollow space between your ears your specialty?

  29. peacelover2345
    June 10, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Military Court Watch was created and exists SOLELY to investigate Israel. It is financed by Dalia Association, which is a Palestinian community foundation founded by members of the Palestinian community from the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, Israel, and the Diaspora.

    Lets see some info issued by the UN or UNICEF, rather than by MCW. The UN is usually anti Israel, but still it has SOME credibility .

  30. peacelover2345
    June 11, 2015 at 12:56 am

    O wow-another well thought out, measured response from the mindless robot. You seem to specialize in gratuitous insults. Whoopee!.

    I did read your link, in which Alfred McCoy tells us how wonderful Alfred McCoy is in propounding the theories of Sir Halford Mackinder. By the way, these theories do sound very interesting and may actually play out in current world affairs. But I do not see why you brought them up at this time, for the topic now under discussion. Where is the connection?

  31. June 11, 2015 at 1:24 am

    The connection is pretty simple. It’s the disconnection of the public from the brutality committed in their name against all the groups and ideals in real time, each and every day, while the public gets instead to piss about PC rather than connecting rhetoric to action and holding the sociopaths who perpetrate the real crimes to account.

    If liberals are pro LGBT, say, then they should demand that the Dem party declare Saudi Arabia a major human rights abuser since they chop off gay people’s heads in public…

    Political correctness is consumer culture, feel-good, kitsch.

    ““Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass!”― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being”

  32. peacelover2345
    June 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I agree with your comments on liberals and PC. I STILL do not see a connection to what is written in your link. Maybe I’m not bright enough.