UWO rejects pressure from Israeli lobby group over UN special rapporteur


UN Watch, a pro-Israel lobby group based in Geneva has attacked the University of Western Ontario for providing office support to law professor Michael Lynk, who was named two years ago by the UN as a Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories. Western’s president has refused to back down. Read more…

On July 20 an Israel lobby organization named UN Watch wrote to Amit Chakma, President of the University of Western Ontario saying it was “shocked” to discover that Western has been providing Professor Michael Lynk with support for his “prejudicial mandate.” (According to the UN that mandate is “to assess the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (and) report publicly about it”.)

UN Watch is a Geneva based organization which describes itself as “concerned with the just application of UN Charter principles”. It is specially focussed on Israel and what it calls “the disproportionate attention and unfair treatment applied by the UN toward Israel.” Former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler, a strong advocate of Israel, is on the UN Watch board of directors.

The letter demanded that Western “cease and desist providing (i) research assistants; (ii) office space, (iii) administrative assistance, and (iv) any other form of support, for Mr. Lynk’s discriminatory mandate.” Oddly, most of the letter was a personal attack on Lynk and on his UN mandate over which neither Lynk nor Western have any control.

In a reply the next day, the University President rejected these demands. He told UN Watch that, as a full-time member of Western’s law faculty, Lynk is entitled to office space and access to a shared research assistant.

Chakma also pointed out that provision of space by universities to professors who work on UN mandates is a common practice. At least 10 UN special rapporteurs receive in kind support from their universities.

After the issue came to the attention of the media, other voices chimed in to defend the actions of the University and the right of Professor Lynk to carry out his mandate without interference.

Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) wrote directly to Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland condemning the attempted intimidation of Professor Lynk in the fulfilment of a mandate of the United Nations and demanding the minister provide protection to Special Rapporteur Lynk. LRWC reminded her that the UN “Calls upon states to ensure adequate protection from intimidation or reprisals for individuals and members of groups who seek to cooperate (…) with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights”. 

It’s not clear what UN Watch hopes to achieve with this attack on academic freedom, Professor Lynk and the office of the Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian territories. Perhaps it hopes some of Western’s donors will try to use financial pressure on the university to help shield Israel from public scrutiny. That might happen. But so far it seems to have run into strong opposition from both the academic and legal communities.


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  1. It is great to hear there are still some fair minded people left in Canadian Universities. So many administrations have buckled to Zionist pressure to silence support of Palestinians or any criticism of Israel .

  2. Ditto Jim Meeks. UWO must be one of the few remaining academic institutions – in North America – not expropriated and strangled by the Jewish Zionist lobby. Kudos Mr. Chakma!

  3. Instead of decrying the mandate and denying the Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights, UN Watch would be much better to lobby Israel to allow Professor Lynke to fulfill his mandate and move the Israel Palestine question towards solution. The Canadian government should be alarmed by this attack on the integrity of a Canadian university and supporting Canadian Michael Lynke in his mandate and reiterating that advocacy of Palestinian human rights is part of the process of moving towards a “two statel” solution long mandated in UN resolutions and supported by Canada and the world community.

    1. Thanks Peter and Dr Chakma
      Our government is not “alarmed by this attack” — in fact they started it. No sooner was ML appointed than S. Dion — then Foreign Minister — attacked the appointment. It was so important to him that he couldn’t wait but had to do it on The Easter weekend.

      No doubt about who is in bed with who

  4. Thank for that blog on Michael Lynk. He was for some time a human rights and labour lawyer here in Ottawa, as I recall. He also has a reputation for integrity and openness, as well as talent in weighing evidence. But then, personal attacks are nothing new, and are more in style these days, aren’t they? If one has nothing else to rely in, such as “facts”, then the personal is the last resort. We can hope that evidence will be what Prof. Lynk manages to produce, though he may be prevented from entry into the Palestinian areas. Paul

  5. and good story in the National Post about a Winnipeg lawyer fighting the import to Canada of wine from the west bank as labelled from The State of Israel.. step by step I guess..

  6. The Zionists are in panic mode. Their edifice of lies is crumbling. With each passing day, increasing numbers of people around the world, including all important Americans, are comprehending the horrors that since its inception, the entity known as “Israel” has inflicted against Palestinian Arabs, the indigenous inhabitants of historic Palestine.

    1. Hey David,
      You are right to say that Palestinian Arabs are indigenous to Palestine. Some of them were Jews.

      The people who lived in Palestine had many religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism.

      There have been Jews in this area for thousands of years. The Bible says that Jesus was a Jew. I dont believe everything in the Bible, but i do believe that.

  7. Rather sad that Irwin Cotler, in his years as Liberal Justice Minister, never met a suffering Palestinian. Only yesterday Cotler was acknowledging the 7th anniversary of the imprisonment of Bahai followers in Iran, but never ever a word of the thousands of Palestinians arrested for being who they are by Israeli military.

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