Clinton, UN chief urged to cancel Ahmadinejad talk

Iranian president’s ‘incendiary incitement’ should land him ‘in the docket of the accused rather than at the UN podium,’ says former Canadian justice minister Cotler

Former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler speaking to a Knesset committee in Jerusalem on March 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler speaking to a Knesset committee in Jerusalem on March 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad belongs “in the docket of the accused rather than at the podium of the UN,” former Canadian minister of justice and attorney-general Irwin Cotler stated Friday in letters addressed to both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Cotler, who is also Co-Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran, asked Ban and Clinton to exercise their authority to prevent what he termed an “affront to the United Nations, its charter, and human decency” – allowing Ahmadinejad to address the General Assembly of the international body during its opening session on Wednesday.

“Let there be no mistake about it: A person who pursues the most destructive of weaponry in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions, who incites to genocide, who is complicit in crimes against humanity, who is engaged in a massive repression of the human rights of his own citizens, who assaults the basic tenets of the UN charter — such a person should be the object of an indictment by this international body, rather than the beneficiary of its respected podium,” Cotler wrote.

The former Canadian minister and law professor added that allowing Ahmadinejad to address the UN’s General Assembly constituted a “cruel parody of law and justice that will put us on the wrong side of history.”

Cotler wrote that precedents in international law could forbid war criminals such as Ahmadinejad from entering the United States – and what’s more, from addressing the United Nations.

“Given President Ahmadinejad’s hateful and incendiary incitement, flagrant disregard for principles of international law, massive repression of domestic human rights, and complicity with international terrorism, providing him with an opportunity – indeed privilege – to speak to the community of nations is simply as unacceptable as it is unworthy of the United Nations,” he wrote.

On Thursday, a Republican and Democrat in the US Senate introduced a resolution calling on the UN to exercise its mechanisms to sanction and charge Iranian leaders for violating the UN charter because of “offensive remarks, contemptible statements, and reprehensible policies aimed at the destruction of the State of Israel.”

The non-binding resolution introduced by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) calls, among other measures, for Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khameini, Iran’s Supreme Leader, to face charges at the International Criminal Court.

Earlier this week, Argentinian Jewish leaders strongly urged their country’s government to reject Iran’s request for a meeting of their respective foreign ministers at the UN General Assembly next week.

The Argentinian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday announced that Iran’s Ali Akbar Salehi had requested an audience with his Argentine counterpart, Hector Timerman, to discuss the AMIA bombing case.

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