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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

United Nations, New York City

UN chief decries discriminatory border bans in rebuke to Trump travel decree
António Guterres: ban based on religion or ethnicity violates basic values
Secretary general says such a ban risks fueling terrorist propaganda.

António Guterres denounced border policies ‘based on any form of discrimination related to religion, ethnicity or nationality’.

Julian Borger in Washington, The Guardian, Wednesday 1 February 2017

António Guterres, the new UN secretary general, said on Wednesday, in a clear response to the Trump administration’s refugee ban, that border policies based on religion, ethnicity or race were “against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based”.

US travel ban puts 20,000 refugees in ‘precarious circumstances’, UN says

Guterres did not mention the US or Donald Trump in his written statement but he directly addressed the political, legal and moral debate triggered by the president’s executive order suspending entry for refugees and other visitors from a list of seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Guterres, who was formerly the UN high commissioner for refugees, also had implicit criticism for other western countries that have increasingly closed their doors to the vast numbers of refugees seeking safe haven around the world, and compared them unfavourably to poorer countries who host the overwhelming bulk of them.

The statement said Guterres was on his “way back from Ethiopia, the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa that for decades has been keeping its borders open to hundreds of thousands of refugees from its neighbours, many times in dramatic security situations”.


“Countries have the right, even the obligation, to responsibly manage their borders to avoid infiltration by members of terrorist organizations,” the secretary general said, but he added: “This cannot be based on any form of discrimination related to religion, ethnicity or nationality because … that is against the fundamental principles and values on which our societies are based.”

He added two other practical objections that have been at the core of much criticism of Trump’s executive order, on the grounds that it is poor national security policy. Guterres said such a ban “triggers widespread anxiety and anger that may facilitate the propaganda of the very terrorist organisations we all want to fight against” and that, furthermore, “blind measures, not based on solid intelligence, tend to be ineffective as they risk being bypassed by what are today sophisticated global terrorist movements”.

“This is not the way to best protect the US. or any other country in relation to the serious concerns that exist about possible terrorist infiltration,” Guterres told reporters in reference to Trump’s executive order. “I don’t think this is the effective way to do so. I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later.”

Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said on Monday: “Trump’s executive order clearly breaches US international human rights obligations on non-refoulement and non-discrimination. It is unlawful.”

“Apart from being in breach of international law, Trump’s Executive Order carries a risk of inc . reasing rather reducing the risk of terrorism,” Emmerson said on Twitter on Tuesday evening

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Seemingly the new UN Secretary-General, a former Portuguese Head of State, does indeed have the backbone to stand up to his American host – this even as expected – President Trumps cabinet appointees may present a danger to the continuation of the present UN structure. Though only 10 days old and many members of the cabinet not yet approved by US Congress – this new US Administration has already managed to put in motion many revolutionary activities that clash with laws intended to protect the weak from the interests of the rich.

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Further, we received also the following from the outgoing US Mission to the UN:

This is to let you know that Ambassador Haley will be spending her first few months learning about the UN and Security Council and its members. She will not be meeting with NGOs for a while.

My last day is February 28. Have really enjoyed working with you.
Peggy

Peggy Kerry
NGO Liaison
U.S. Mission to the UN
799 UN Plaza

We clearly are sorry for losing Ms. Peggy Kerry from her position as NGO liaison to the UN
and we also note that the new US Ambassador for the UN – Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina – will be inactive for several months, and not having the background to function at the UN, and in need of a learning experience before she is ready to enter the fray – she in effect sees no need to ask also for advice in that learning time from the NGOs. This in itself is a major retrogressive step for the US in its international relations – that we will follow and watch attentively.

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