SecState Pompeo Confronts UN Secretary General Guterres on UN Blacklist

A solid and legitimate move by the Trump administration.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met on March 6th with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres at UN headquarters in New York. Secretary Pompeo took the opportunity to condemn the UN’s highly biased pro-Palestinian decision to release its blacklist of companies doing business with Israeli firms operating in disputed areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which includes several U.S. companies.

According to the State Department’s readout of the meeting, Secretary Pompeo “reiterated his outrage at the decision by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to publish a database of companies operating in Israeli-controlled territories.” The U.S. statement added that Secretary Pompeo “made clear that the United States will continue to engage UN officials and member states on this matter, will not tolerate the reckless mistreatment of U.S. companies, and will respond to actions harmful to our business community.”

As usual, the UN Secretary General tried to paper over significant objections to the UN’s moral failures with diplomatic niceties. His office’s readout of the same meeting made no mention of the blacklist controversy. “The Secretary-General expressed appreciation for the continued engagement of the United States in the United Nation,” the UN statement said. It ticked off as topics of discussion “a range of situations around the world, including Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, the Sahel and the questions related to the implementation of the host country agreement.” The reference to the host country agreement implementation may have alluded to a dispute over the denial or delay of visas issued by the U.S. to UN diplomats from certain countries, principally Russia and Iran, seeking to attend UN meetings in New York. However, the statement completely sidestepped the substance of the issue. Nothing was even hinted regarding any other differences between the United States and the United Nations.

Secretary Pompeo, representing the UN’s biggest financial contributor by far, was not willing to be a part of such play-acting. What Bachelet did, with the Secretary General’s evident concurrence, blatantly undermines real human rights. The UN blacklist promotes the agenda of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which discriminatorily singles out the Jewish State for economic punishment because of its “settlements” activities. Turkey, which illegally occupied Northern Cyprus in 1974, has since sent thousands of Turkish settlers and occupation troops to Northern Cyprus without a whimper of objection by UN officials.

The true agenda of BDS, with which the UN is complicit, is the total destruction of the Jewish State of Israel and its full takeover by Palestinian militants. “No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine,” said Omar Barghouti, BDS’s co-founder. The truth is that the BDS movement and its offshoot at the United Nations are a throwback to the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

Thus, the Trump administration correctly objects to the use of the American taxpayer-funded UN bureaucracy to promulgate a blacklist intended to intimidate U.S. businesses and others into complying with the BDS boycott. Secretary General Guterres should heed the message that Secretary Pompeo delivered to him during their face-to-face meeting on Friday or face the financial consequences from further cuts in U.S. contributions to the UN’s bloated budget.

We do not know for sure what was said during the meeting regarding implementation of the Agreement between the United Nations and the United States of America regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations – the so-called host country agreement.  However, Secretary General Guterres has expressed concerns in the past over failures or delays by the Trump administration in issuing visas to foreign government officials seeking entry to the United States to attend UN meetings as well as the imposition of travel restrictions.

Hopefully, Secretary of State Pompeo made it clear to Secretary General Guterres that the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and her investigatory staff will not be welcome to the United States as long as they pursue their vendetta against American officials, soldiers, and intelligence agents for perfectly lawful actions taken against terrorists in Afghanistan.

A panel of judges from the ICC’s Appeals Chamber has just reversed an earlier ruling below by another ICC panel of judges, which had blocked a probe into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. The Appeals Chamber judges decided unanimously last Thursday to allow the ICC prosecutor to investigate possible crimes on Afghan territory since May 2003 and other alleged crimes linked to the situation there since July 2002.

The United States is not a party to the ICC Rome Statute. Moreover, the ICC is violating a key provision of the Rome Statute itself (Article 17), which defers to each sovereign nation’s right to exercise its own national jurisdiction over the alleged crimes that are the subject of the ICC investigation. The U.S.’s record in Afghanistan and elsewhere where its troops are serving is stellar when it comes to holding them accountable for wrong-doing. For example, the U.S. Army court-martialed and convicted a U.S. Army Sgt. of murdering 16 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In short, the ICC has no jurisdiction to investigate any actions by U.S. citizens in Afghanistan.

The ICC prosecutor has no business deciding whether the U.S. civil courts and military tribunals are adequate to prosecute any cases of alleged wrong-doing against U.S. personnel. The U.S. judiciary is responsible for acting in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, and does not answer to an international court acting pursuant to a treaty of which the United States is not a member. The ICC lacks protections of fundamental liberties included in the U.S. Constitution, including the right to trial by jury and protection against double jeopardy.

Secretary Pompeo condemned the decision of the ICC’s Appeals Chamber panel to give the ICC prosecutor free rein in conducting her investigation of alleged crimes in Afghanistan as a "breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution, masquerading as a legal body." He added, "It is all the more reckless for this ruling to come just days after the United States signed a historic peace deal on Afghanistan, which is the best chance for peace in a generation. We're going to take all the appropriate actions to ensure that American citizens are not hauled before this political body to settle political vendettas."

The Trump administration can start by following through on Secretary Pompeo’s warning last year that the U.S. would deny or revoke visas for International Criminal Court staff. The U.S. has already revoked ICC Prosecutor Bensouda's entry visa to the United States. She should continue to be barred from entering the United States for any reason, along with her investigators. They also must be barred from interviewing any past or present U.S. officials, soldiers or other government personnel anywhere in the world. Any attempt by the ICC to enforce a warrant against any U.S. citizens must be fought by all means necessary.

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Photo from YouTube

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