Saudi Arabia and Israel threaten their way out of list of shame

The Secretary General of the United Nations made an astounding admission that they had removed Saudi Arabia from a child-killing list of shame because of financial pressure.

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL Ban Ki-moon publicly acknowledged Thursday that he removed the Saudi-led coalition currently bombing Yemen from a blacklist of child killers — 72 hours after it was published — due to a financial threat to defund United Nations programs.

The secretary-general didn’t name the source of the threat, but news reports have indicated it came directly from the Saudi government.

The U.N.’s 2015 “Children and Armed Conflict” report originally listed the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen under “parties that kill or maim children” and “parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals.” The report, which was based on the work of U.N. researchers in Yemen, attributed 60 percent of the 785 children killed and 1,168 injured to the bombing coalition.

After loud public objections from the Saudi government, Ban said on Monday that he was revising the report to “review jointly the cases and numbers cited in the text,” in order to “reflect the highest standards of accuracy possible.”

But on Thursday, he described his real motivation. “The report describes horrors no child should have to face,” Ban said at a press conference. “At the same time, I also 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. Children already at risk in Palestine, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and so many other places would fall further into despair.”

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

Ban called the decision “one of the most painful and difficult decisions I have had to make.”

So Saudi Arabia, one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to human rights, uses its wealth to hide its crimes. And you can be sure that the US, one of the biggest backers of the Saudis, would have known of this move and condoned it, just as it supported the removal of another ally Israel from a similar list last year. As Sarah Lazare writes,

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is refusing to condemn the removal of the Saudi-led coalition from the blacklist. In an exchange with an unnamed reporter on Thursday, Mark C. Toner, deputy spokesperson for the State Department, said, “Look, I’m not going to second-guess the UN’s decision and the secretary-general’s decision,” he said. “It’s up to him to explain and defend his rationale for doing so.”

The U.S. has employed identical tactics to shield its allies from criticism. Last year, Ban Ki-moon removed Israel from a list of militaries and guerilla groups that violate children’s rights following intense pressure from the United States and Israel. In 2011 the United States withdrew its funding of UNESCO after the Palestinian Authority was granted full membership in the agency.

It is interesting that Israel’s removal last year received no significant coverage in the US media at the time and is being brought up only in the context of this year’s action favoring Saudi Arabia. While human rights groups are trying to get Saudi Arabia put back on the list, there did not seem to have been a similar effort last year when it came to Israel.

By getting themselves off these lists, Saudi Arabia and Israel are enabled to continue their actions that result in the deaths of children and the US, in addition to its own killing of children in the many conflicts it is engaged in, is complicit in those crimes.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    By getting themselves off these lists, Saudi Arabia and Israel are enabled to continue their actions

    Being on the list would have stopped them?

  2. Siobhan says

    Many countries have been pissing around with the UN. While the humanist in me is delighted by the concept, it has no muscle as long as there’s no way to properly enforce its resolutions. Countries who aren’t even pretending to give a shit about human rights will continue to jerk the UN around as long as the UN sticks to writing strongly worded letters.

  3. Mano Singham says


    Clearly such lists have at least some deterrent effect otherwise why would the countries work so hard to get off them?

  4. says

    We helped members of the Saudi royal family escape the US after all air traffic was grounded because of the 9/11 attacks, despite the fact that nearly all of the terrorists responsible were Saudi citizens.

    If we are not going to demand accountability for a mass murder in our own country, why bother demanding accountability with mass murder in someone else’s country?

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