Finger Obstruction Cause for Shelving of UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

“Filibuster, obstruction and procedural maneuvers” by “a most peculiar combination of states” were blamed today by a key figure in the United States Mission to the United Nations for the shelving of a proposal to establish a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Speaking at the second annual luncheon of the President’s Club of the B’nai B’rith Youth Services, Ambassador Seymour Maxwell Finger noted the appropriateness of the passage of the proposal, during the 25th anniversary session of the General Assembly, which would have provided an office “to be headed by an eminent and respected statesman to which individual complaints and violations of human rights might be addressed and on which a responsible inquiry might be made–procedures which have been notably lacking in the United Nations.” The move to create the High Commission which has been pending for several years, was shelved Monday to next year “without priority” in the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee of the General Assembly.

The vote, 54 to shelve, 38 against, and 15 abstentions, is expected to weaken the possibility of action at the next session since it removed the priority previously assigned to the proposal. The heated debate, prior to Ceylon’s motion to shelve, was highlighted by a physical attack last week by Ambassador Jamiel M. Baroody of Saudi Arabia on Jean-Dominique Paolini of France. The French delegate had accused Baroody of filibustering. Among the nations who voted for the shelving were the Soviet and Arab blocs with the support of certain African and Asian states. The United States, Israel and the Western nations opposed the motion. Ambassador Finger, a ranking Jewish career diplomat, is the Senior Advisor to Ambassador Charles W. Yost, and also represents the U.S. on the UN Trusteeship Council, the Committee on Colonialism and the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. The President’s Club, which cited Ambassador Finger “In profound appreciation of his unstinting efforts and total dedication to the preservation and enhancement of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations” is an honor group of annual major supporters of the B’nai B’rith Youth Services.

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