A high-ranking United Nations (UN) official who issued a scathing letter condemning the UN’s perceived inability to safeguard civilians in Gaza had come under review for alleged bias in his social media content after a pro-Israel advocacy group registered a complaint.
Craig Mokhiber, the Director of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York, penned a letter on October 28, addressing the UN High Commissioner in Geneva, Volker Türk. In this letter, Mokhiber accused Israel of perpetrating acts of genocide and accused his own organization of failing to prevent these actions. He notably concluded the letter with, “This will be my final communication to you.” Following this expression of concern, Mokhiber has since resigned from his position.
The review of Mokhiber’s social media activities and broadcast interviews was initiated in March, in response to a complaint by a pro-Israel lobbying group. This matter was under consideration within the UN’s Investigations Division Office of Internal Oversight Services, which later forwarded the case to the High Commissioner for Human Rights earlier this month, designating him as the “responsible official” for conducting his assessment.
Mokhiber asserted that he had not been informed about the review process and suggested that such complaints by Israel advocacy groups were not unusual. He mentioned, “Israel lobby groups regularly harass and complain about UN officials who speak out against Israeli violations, but the UN is accustomed to this strategy. Hence, it would be surprising if any such ‘complaint’ had any significant impact. In fact, as I mentioned, I was unaware of it. Furthermore, it would be highly unusual for a complaint against a UN human rights official who criticized a nation’s human rights transgressions to gain traction.”
The initial complaint against Mokhiber was lodged by an organization named “UK Lawyers for Israel,” contending that his public expressions, both on social media and in televised interviews, exhibited a pronounced anti-Israel bias. This, they argued, contravened the principles of independence and impartiality in international civil service regulations and the UN’s guidelines for staff members on social media.
One of Mokhiber’s posts on X (formerly known as Twitter) addressing the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, presumably shot by an Israeli sniper, read, “Israel was ‘whitewashing the cold-blooded murder of its own citizen.’ No accountability. Just an official cover-up. A pattern of supporting #impunity that goes back 75 years and includes covering up war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and state terrorism.”
A spokesperson from the UN verified that Mokhiber is “retiring” and had informed the UN of his intention to retire in March 2023.
Mokhiber, a lawyer specializing in international human rights law, has been associated with the UN since 1992 and had lived in Gaza during the 1990s. In his farewell letter, he decried the ongoing genocide in Gaza and expressed his disillusionment with the UN’s perceived inability to halt these events. He stated, “High Commissioner, we are once again failing. The ongoing large-scale slaughter of the Palestinian populace, grounded in an ethno-nationalist colonial settler ideology, continuing decades of systematic persecution and expulsion, entirely based on their Arab ethnicity, leaves no room for doubt.”
The situation in the Israel-Gaza conflict remains a matter of global concern, with ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of the crisis and the suffering of those involved.