In March 2007 the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) was treated to a speech from the Executive Director of United Nations Watch. News reports subsequently called it a “stunning rebuke”. Council President Luis Alfonso de Alba called it “inadmissible”.
UN Watch has a stated mission, “to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter”, and regularly draws attention to the HRC being peopled largely by representatives of countries with lamentable human rights records. Its Executive Director is Hillel Neuer. Considering this speech stirred a hornets’ nest perhaps we should watch it.
He’s not sitting on any fences, is he!
That is a blunt and brutal anaphora at 0:39 – “its response has been …”
My aversion to speakers reading speeches is well known, but I can understand when someone reads a speech like this. For posterity there will be a publishable transcript, and if you are pronouncing something as controversial as this you want to ensure that what is published is accurate to the letter. What safer way than personally to supply the transcript, having read from it?
I am curious as to what happens off camera at 2:46. For a few seconds Neuer becomes slightly distracted, and you can see his eyes following activity of some sort.
He finishes at 3:10, and Council President Luis Alfonso de Alba begins speaking. It seems that (again off camera) Neuer, is either already packing up to leave or perhaps someone else is speaking to him, because de Alba has to repeat that he shall not be thanking him for his statement. He goes on to censure him for his tone, his terminology, and his lack of deference. Interestingly, he does not refute a word of what Neuer has said. Could it be irrefutable?
With all the respect that de Alba clearly considers himself and his council to be entitled, his pronouncement puts me in mind of the short speech with which Dogberry closes Act 4, scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It’s the one that begins,
“Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years?”
In 2017, Neuer stirred it again in the same place. Perhaps we should look at that speech soon.