Director of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York quit his post, protesting that the UN was “failing” in its duty to prevent what he described as genocide of Palestinian civilians in Gaza under Israeli bombardment and citing the US, the UK and much of Europe as “totally complicit in the appalling attack”.
Craig Mockiber wrote on October 28 to UN High Commissioner in Geneva Volker Turk, saying: “This will be my last message to you” in his role in New York.
Mohiber, who was retiring after reaching retirement age, wrote: “Once again we see genocide unfolding before our eyes and the organization we serve seems powerless to stop it.”
He said the UN had failed to prevent previous genocides against Tutsi in Rwanda, Muslims in Bosnia, Yazidis in Iraqi Kurdistan and Rohingya in Myanmar and wrote: “High Commissioner, we are failing again.
“The current mass slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in the ethno-nationalist ideology of colonial settlers, over decades of their systematic persecution and cleansing, based entirely on their status as Arabs…leaves no room for doubt.”
Mohiber added: “This is textbook genocide” and said the US, the UK and much of Europe were not only “refusing to fulfill their treaty obligations” under the Geneva Conventions, but were also arming Israel’s attack and providing political and diplomatic cover for it.
The outgoing director’s resignation letter did not mention the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel, killing more than 1,400 people and taking 240 hostages. It is even more disputed that his letter calls for the actual end of the state of Israel.
“We must support the creation of a single, democratic secular state throughout historic Palestine, with equal rights for Christians, Muslims and Jews,” he wrote, adding: “and, therefore, the dismantling of the deeply racist, settler colonial project and an end to apartheid in the whole country.”
Mohiber has worked for the United Nations since 1992, holding a number of increasingly prominent roles. He has led the High Commissioner’s work in developing a human rights-based approach to development and has acted as a senior adviser on human rights in Palestine, Afghanistan and Sudan.
A lawyer specializing in international human rights law, he lived in Gaza in the 1990s.
In his role as director of the New York office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, he has occasionally come under fire from pro-Israel groups for his comments on social media. He was criticized for publishing support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and accusations of apartheid Israel – a charge he repeated in retirement a letter.
Journalists and academics started publication of the letterthe content of X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday afternoon.