Letter: Selective enforcement of UN resolutions

Click to follow
Sir: Your leading article 'Triple standards?' (20 January) deals with the issue of selective enforcement of UN resolutions, and of 'double standards' with regard to international action on Iraq and Israel, as if these were problems only because they are views held by the Arab world and apparently 'deliberately fomented for political purposes by Muslim fundamentalists'. To deal with the argument of double standards by stating that 'not all UN resolutions are the same' is to miss the point, which is: why has the Chapter 7 language of the UN Charter not been invoked with regard to Israel? Any attempt to move beyond condemnation with regard to Israel's conduct over the past decades has been undermined by the certainty of the veto of at least one permanent member of the Security Council.

This is the double standard at the Security Council. Resolutions on Israel have had to address the invasion and occupation of neighbouring sovereign states (Lebanon and Syria) with the annexation of occupied territory (Jerusalem) as well as with the continuing military occupation of the Palestinian territories. They have also had to deal with the cycle of human rights violations that continue on a daily basis against the occupied Palestinian population, including the recent deportations of more than 400 civilians, which in customary international law are the equivalent of war crimes. Some might consider your use of the term 'misdemeanours' to describe such conduct as compelling evidence of the double standard in question.

'In the real world', to use your phrase, the law will not work if we are selective in its enforcement. The problems of the Middle East will not be solved by picking and choosing who has to obey the given rules. In the words of a colleague who once represented the International Committee of the Red Cross in Lebanon: 'It is odd to lump Israel in the company of Iraq, and what remains of Yugoslavia, but that is not our choice.'

Yours sincerely,


MP for Dundee West (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

28 January

The writer is chair of the All Party Britain/Palestine Group.