Richard A. Falk: Wikis


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Richard Anderson Falk (born 1930) is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, writer (the author or co-author of 20 books),[1] speaker, activist on world affairs, and an appointee to two United Nations positions on the Palestinian territories.


Life and work

Falk described his family background as "assimilationist Jewish with a virtual denial of even the ethnic side of Jewishness."[2] and more recently has described himself as " American Jew..."[3]

Falk obtained a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, a Bachelor of Laws from Yale University, and a Doctor of Laws from Harvard University. He is Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice, Emeritus at Princeton University, and was Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2001-04). He retired from teaching in 2001.[4][5]

Falk has published a number of books and essays analyzing the legality of the Vietnam War and other military operations. With regard to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he has written that it is "inescapable that an objective observer would reach the conclusion that this Iraq war is a war of aggression, and as such, that it amounts to a Crime against Peace of the sort for which surviving German leaders were indicted, prosecuted and punished at the Nuremberg trials conducted shortly after the Second World War."[6]

He is a member of the Editorial Boards of The Nation and The Progressive, and Chair of the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.[7][8] He is a former advisory board member of the World Federalist Institute[9] and the American Movement for World Government.[10] He is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Chapman University School of Law.[11]

During 1999-2000, Falk worked on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo.[8]

United Nations Human Rights Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories

In 2001 Falk served on a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories[8] with John Dugard, a South African based in Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Kamal Hussein, former foreign minister of Bangladesh. Falk stated the two main issues were: "One is evaluating whether the conditions of occupation are such as to give the Palestinians some kind of right of resistance. And if they have that right, then what are the limits to that right?" and "The other issue at stake in this current inquiry is to evaluate how Israel as the occupying power is carrying out its responsibility to protect the society that is subject to its control."[12] After its investigation the commission issued a report entitled "Human rights inquiry commission to gather and compile information on the violation of human rights by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories."

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights

On March 26, 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967."[13] Falk replaces South African professor John Dugard, an expert on apartheid who will leave his post in June 2008 after seven years.[14]


Response to appointment

According to a UN press release, then Israeli H.E. permanent resident Ambassador to the United Nations Itzhak Levanon[15] said that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur was "hopelessly unbalanced," "redundant at best and malicious at worst." Referring to Falk's statement that it was not "an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with the criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity," Levanon argued that "someone who had publicly and repeatedly stated such views could not possibly be considered independent, impartial or objective." He stated the council was "missing an opportunity" to lay "the groundwork for better cooperation with Israel."[16]

Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, criticized Falk's appointment to the United Nations Human Rights Council, stating that "This is exactly why we voted against the new human rights council" and that "He was picked for a reason, and the reason is not to have an objective assessment — the objective is to find more ammunition to go after Israel."[17][18]

Yitzhak Levanon, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, criticized Falk's appointment in an address to the council, stating: "He has taken part in a UN fact-finding mission which determined that suicide bombings were a valid method of 'struggle'. He has disturbingly charged Israel with 'genocidal tendencies', and accused it of trying to achieve security through 'state terrorism'. Someone who has publicly and repeatedly stated such views cannot possibly be considered independent, impartial or objective."[19] The Israeli government announced that it will deny Falk a visa to Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, at least until the September 2008 meeting of the Human Rights Council.[20]

Investigations and statements

In May 2008 Israel refused to admit Falk to gather information for a report. The National Lawyers Guild urged Israel to permit Falk entry, stating "Falk made no claims any different from those made by John Dugard, the man he was to replace, in several reports on conditions in the Occupied Territories."[21] In a July 2008 interview Falk stated the constraints would "limit my exposure to the direct realities. But I think it's quite possible to perform this role without that exposure. Barring my entry complicates my task but doesn't make it undoable."[22]

In June 2008, Falk proposed to the Human Rights Council that his mandate to investigate violations of international humanitarian law in the Palestinian territories be extended to include possible Palestinian infringements. He stated his goal was to "insulate" the Council, which is dominated by Islamic and African states, usually supported by China, Cuba and Russia, "from those who contend that its work is tainted by partisan politics."[23]

On December 9, 2008, the United Nations released a statement by Falk in his official capacity as "Special Rapporteur" noting that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, among other top officials, have expressed concern for the “desperate plight” of civilians in Gaza. Falk said: “And still Israel maintains its Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease.” He outlined steps that must be taken to avoid a “humanitarian catastrophe."[24] These included implementing the "responsibility to protect" a civilian population from collective punishment and a determination of "whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law," which The Jerusalem Post wrote would go before the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands.[25][26]

On December 14 Falk landed at Ben Gurion Airport with staff members from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on an official visit, planning to travel to the West Bank and Gaza to prepare a report on Israel's compliance with human rights standards and international humanitarian law.[27] However, Israel detained him and held him for 30 hours, before releasing him to a flight back to Geneva on December 15.[28][29][30] In an interview Falk stated the Israeli government distorts his real views and that he saw the expulsion as an "insidious pattern of trying to shift the attention from their objections to the person."[31] Navi Pillay called Israel's detention and expulsion of Falk "unprecedented and deeply regrettable."[32]

On December 27, 2008 Falk issued a statement condemning the December 2008 Israel strikes on Gaza as "war crimes" because they included collective punishment, targeting of civilians and a disproportionate military response to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel. He stated that Israel had ignored Hamas' diplomatic initiatives to re-establish the ceasefire which expired December 26 and condemned nations which provided Israel military support and participated in the siege of Gaza.[33] In a Houston Chronicle article Falk reaffirmed that he had "called on the International Criminal Court" to investigate Israeli leaders responsible for possible violations of international criminal law.[34]

In March 2009, Falk stated that Israel's offensive in Gaza constituted a war crime of the "greatest magnitude". He called for an independent group to be set up to investigate the war crimes committed on both sides.[35] The British government responded to Falk's report by stating that "the report of the UN Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur is unbalanced and contributes little."[36] Richard Goldstone, head of the independent United Nations fact-finding mission to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the conflict[37], stated that he would take in account “relevant factors, reports, suggestions, recommendations,” including those of Richard Falk.[38] Israel also refused to cooperate with Goldstone[39], who was shocked by the devastation in Gaza[40], and said he was not optimistic about the possibility of war crimes trials.[41]

Notable opinions

Nuremberg Defense of Violent Vietnam War Protesters

In October, 1973, Falk defended Karleton Armstrong, who pleaded guilty to bombing the University of Wisconsin Army Mathematics Research Center, which killed a researcher working there. The New York Times reported that Falk "appealed for full amnesty for all resistors, including those who use violent tactics to oppose the war in Vietnam." The Times further reported that Falk, "cited the Nuremberg Trials as precedent for defense assertions that private American citizens had "a right, and perhaps a duty" to actively oppose the war by any means".[42] According to Ronald Christenson, political science professor at Gustavus Adolphus College, Falk "invoked the Nuremberg precedent to argue that there is a right of individuals to stop crime 'even by creating a lesser crime.'"[43][44]

View on Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979

On February 16, 1979, two weeks after the return of Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran, Falk wrote an op-ed for the New York Times “Trusting Khomeini”. He criticized President Jimmy Carter's accusations of “religious fanaticism” and media descriptions of Khomeini as being backward, antisemitic, and guilty of “theocratic fascism.” Arguing Khomeini was being judged unfairly, he concluded “the depiction of Khomeini as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false ... To suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissembling seems almost beyond belief. ... Having created a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on nonviolent tactics, Iran may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.”[17][45]

9/11 and the Bush administration

In 2004, Falk wrote a preface to David Ray Griffin's book The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11 which maintains that the George W. Bush administration was complicit in the September 11 attacks.[46] In that preface he argued: "There have been questions raised here and there and allegations of official complicity made almost from the day of the attacks, especially in Europe, but no one until Griffin has had the patience, the fortitude, the courage, and the intelligence to put the pieces together in a single coherent account." Falk called for an official commission to further study these issues, including the role neoconservatives may have played in the attacks.[17] He also signed a statement released by the organization 9/11 Truth in 2004 that calls for a new investigation into the September 11 attacks. Falk confirmed his support for the statement in 2009.[47]

Falk also wrote a chapter for Griffin's 2006 book entitled 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out.[48] In November 2008, Falk wrote in The Journal, a student publication in Edinburgh, Scotland: “It is not paranoid under such circumstances to assume that the established elites of the American governmental structure have something to hide and much to explain... The persisting inability to resolve this fundamental controversy about 9/11 subtly taints the legitimacy of the American government. It can only be removed by a willingness, however belated, to reconstruct the truth of that day, and to reveal the story behind its prolonged suppression.”[49][50]

During the June 2008 session of the UN Human Rights Council, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer challenged Falk on his statements. "Could you tell us what credibility you expect your reports to have when leading newspapers such as The Times of London are commenting on your support for the 9/11 conspiracy theories of David Ray Griffin, who argues, and I quote from the Times article of April 15, 'that no plane hit the Pentagon,' and that 'the World Trade Center was brought down by a controlled demolition'?[51] Although Egypt's representative objected with a point of order asking that this be stricken from the record, Council president Romulus Costea declined to accede, and Neuer's challenge remains on the official UN record. Falk never responded.[52]

Statements on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

In a June 2007 article "Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust", Falk compared some Israeli policies with regard to the Palestinians to the Nazi Germany record of collective punishment. Identifying himself as a Jewish American, Falk stated that his use of the term "holocaust" "represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current [Israeli] genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy [for the Palestinians]". Falk also stated that "the comparison should not be viewed as literal, but...that a pattern of criminality associated with Israeli policies in Gaza has actually been supported by the leading democracies of the 21st century."[3]

Falk responded to the criticism by saying, "If this kind of situation had existed for instance in the manner in which China was dealing with Tibet or the Sudanese government was dealing with Darfur, I think there would be no reluctance to make that comparison." He attributed the reluctance to criticise Israel's policies to the sensitive history of the Jewish people, as well as the state's ability to "avoid having (its) policies held up to international law and morality."[53]


  • Essays on Espionage and International Law with Quincy Wright, Julius Stone, Roland J. Stanger; Ohio State University Press, 1962.
  • Security in Disarmament, Editor with Richard J. Barnet, Princeton University Press, 1965.
  • Toward a Theory of War Prevention, with Saul H. Mendlovitz, Transaction Publishers, 1966.
  • Strategy of World Order (Volumes I to IV), edited with Saul H. Mendlovitz, World Law Fund, 1966-67.
  • Legal Order In A Violent World, Princeton University Press, 1968.
  • International Law And Organization, Editor with Wolfram F. Hanrieder, Lippincott, 1968.
  • The Six Legal Dimensions of the Vietnam War, Princeton University Press, 1968.
  • In the Name of America-The Conduct of the War in Vietnam by the Armed Forces of the U.S., editor with Seymour Melman, E.P. Dutton, 1968.
  • The Vietnam war and international law, edited by Richard A. Falk with Wolfram F. Hanrieder; J. B. Lippincott, 1968.
  • A Global Approach to National Policy, Harvard University Press, 1975.
  • Crimes of War: A Legal, Political-Documentary, and Psychological Inquiry into the Responsibility of Leaders, Citizens, and Soldiers for Criminal Acts in Wars with Gabriel Kolko, Robert Jay Lifton; Random House, 1971.
  • The United Nations and a Just World Order with Samuel S. Kim, Saul H. Mendlovitz; Westview Press, 1991.
  • This Endangered Planet, Random House, 1971.
  • Regional Politics and World Order with Saul H. Mendlovitz, W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd, 1973.
  • A Study of Future Worlds, Free Press, 1975.
  • The Vietnam War and International Law, Editor, Pinceton University Press, 1976.
  • Human Rights and State Sovereignty, Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1981.
  • International Law: A Contemporary Perspective (Studies on a Just World Order, No 2) with Friedrich Kratochwil, Saul H. Mendlovitz; Westview Press, 1985.
  • Revolutionaries and Functionaries, Dutton Adult, 1988.
  • The Promise of World Order: Essays in Normative International Relations, Temple University Press, 1988.
  • Explorations at the Edge of Time: The Prospects for World Order, Temple University Press, 1993.
  • On Humane Governance: Toward a New Global Politics - The World Order Models Project Report of the Global Civilization Initiative, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.
  • Indefensible Weapons: The Political and Psychological Case Against Nuclearism with Robert Jay Lifton, House of Anansi Press, 1998.
  • Predatory Globalization: A Critique, Polity, 1999.
  • Human Rights Horizons: The Pursuit of Justice in a Globalizing World, Routledge, 2001.
  • Reframing the International: Law, Culture, Politics, Routledge, 2002.
  • Unlocking the Middle East: The Writings of Richard Falk, Jean Allain, Editor; Olive Branch Press, 2002.
  • In Pursuit of the Right to Self-Determination Collected Papers of the First International, Editor with D. Kly, Clarity Press, 2001.
  • Religion and Humane Global Governance, Palgrave Macmillan, 2001.
  • The Great Terror War, Interlink Publishing Group, 2002.
  • The Declining World Order: America's Imperial Geopolitics, Routledge, 2004.
  • The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy with Howard Friel, Verso, 2004.
  • Crimes of War: Iraq with Irene Gendzier, Robert Jay Lifton; Nation Books, 2006.
  • Foundations of Restoration Ecology: The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration (The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration Series) with Richard J. Hobbs, Donald A. Falk, Margaret Palmer, and Joy Zedler; Island Press, 2006.
  • The Costs of War: International Law, the UN, and World Order after Iraq, Routledge, 2007.
  • Israel-Palestine on Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East with Howard Friel, Verso, 2007.
  • Achieving Human Rights , Routledge, 2008.
  • International Law and the Third World: Reshaping Justice (Routledge-Cavendish Research in International Law), Editor, Routledge, July 29, 2008.


  1. ^ USC Center on Public Diplomacy, Dean’s Open Forum, Richard Falk November 4, 2004.
  2. ^ Griffiths, Martin. Fifty Key Thinkers In International Relations. Routledge, 1999. (Page 119)
  3. ^ a b Richard Falk, Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust, The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF), June 29, 2007.
  4. ^ Richard A Falk Biographical Profile, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  5. ^ Richard Falk affidavit 2006
  6. ^ Frontline, Volume 20, Issue 08, April 12-25, 2003.
  7. ^ Princeton University faculty profile.
  8. ^ a b c Biographical Profile from University of California, Santa Barbara lecture.
  9. ^ World Federalist Institute web site.
  10. ^ American Movement for World Government web site
  11. ^ Faculty Biography of Richard Falk, Chapman University School of Law web site.
  12. ^ Karin Dienst, Falk evaluates Mideast violence with U.N. team, Princeton University Weekly Bulletin, February 19, 2001.
  13. ^ "Human Rights Council elects Advisory Committee Members and approves a number of Special Procedures mandate holders". United Nations. 2008-03-26. Archived from the original on 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2009-01-01.  
  14. ^ UN envoy hits Israel 'apartheid', BBC, February 23, 2007
  15. ^ Statement by H.E. permanent resident Ambassador to the United Nations Itzhak Levanon, March 22, 2007
  16. ^ Human Rights Council Elects Advisory Committee Members, United Nations press release, March 26, 2008. Falk actually said: "Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not." As quoted in U.N. Taps American Jewish Critic of Israel as Rights Expert, The Forward, April 4, 2008.
  17. ^ a b c Eli Lake, U.N. Official Calls for Study Of Neocons' Role in 9/11, New York Sun, April 10, 2008
  18. ^ Critics Demand Resignation of U.N. Official Who Wants Probe of 9/11 'Inside Job' Theories by Joseph Abrams, Fox News, July 15, 2008 (retrieved on November 12, 2008).
  19. ^ UNHRC appointment infuriates Israel, The Jerusalem Post, March 26, 2008.
  20. ^ Israel to bar UN official for comparing Israelis to Nazis, Haaretz, April 8, 2008.
  21. ^ Press Release: National Lawyers Guild Urges Israel to Permit Richard Falk to Enter Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Common Dreams, April 23, 2008.
  22. ^ Linda Mamoun, Israel Bars UN Human Rights Watchdog From Occupied Territories, Alternet reprint of The Nation article, posted on July 11, 2008.
  23. ^ UN official who compared Israel to Nazis turns the spotlight on Palestinians, Haaretz, June 16, 2008.
  24. ^ Urgent action needed to alleviate desperate plight of Gaza’s civilians – UN rights expert, United Nations News Center, December 9, 2009.
  25. ^ Human Rights & Wrongs, Jerusalem Post, December 10, 2008.
  26. ^ Gaza: Silence is not an option, statement by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, issued December 9, 2008.
  27. ^ Richard A.Falk, 'My Expulsion from Israel' 22/12/2008
  28. ^ Israel denies entry to UN rights investigator, Reuters, reproduced at YNET, December 15, 2008.
  29. ^ UN Assembly President calls stories he tried to stop Israel speaking ‘malicious lie’, United Nations News Center, December 15, 2008.
  30. ^ "UNHRC rapporteur denied entry to Israel", The Jerusalem Post, December 16, 2008.
  31. ^ Days After Calling Israeli Blockade of Gaza “A Crime Against Humanity,” UN Human Rights Investigator Richard Falk Detained, Expelled from Israel, Democracy Now, December 17, 2008.
  32. ^ UN: Daily Press Briefing, United Nations, December 16, 2008.
  33. ^ Richard Falk, Statement by Prof. Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, December 27, 2008.
  34. ^ Richard Falk, Bring light — and censure — to brutal Israeli attacks, World needs to see the victims and carnage in Gaza,Houston Chronicle, December 29, 2008.
  35. ^ UN envoy: Gaza op seems to be war crime of greatest magnitude Haaretz, March 19, 2009
  36. ^ AFP: Britain raps 'unbalanced' UN rights Gaza report AFP, March 30, 2009
  37. ^ "UN appoints Gaza war-crimes team". BBC News. 14:42 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009. Retrieved Friday, 3 April 2009.  
  38. ^ Sameh A. Habeeb, Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on Gaza, Interview with Richard Goldstone, Palestine Telegraph, April 16, 2009.
  39. ^ Israel will not cooperate with U.N. probe, United Press International, June 2, 2009.
  40. ^ UN investigator 'shocked' by scale of destruction in Gaza, Haaretz, June 6, 2009.
  41. ^ Ben Hubbard, UN's Gaza war crimes investigation faces obstacles, Associated Press in Washington Post, June 9, 2009.
  42. ^ "Ex-Senator Aids Bomber's Defense," [[New York Times]], October 20, 1973.
  43. ^ Christenson, Ronald, Political Trials: Gordian Knots in the Law, Transaction Publishers, 1999, p. 172, ISBN 978-0765804730
  44. ^ Hentoff, Nat, The Nat Hentoff Reader, Da Capo Press, 2001, p. 255, ISBN 978-0306810848
  45. ^ Richard Falk OpEd, “Trusting Khomeini,” New York Times, February 16, 1979.
  46. ^ David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11, Interlink, 2005.
  47. ^ Rossmeier, Vincent (September 11, 2009). "Would you still sign the 9/11 Truth petition?". Salon. Retrieved September 11, 2009.  
  48. ^ David Ray Griffin, 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, Olive Branch Press, 2006.
  49. ^ U.N. official boosts 9/11 conspiracy theorists, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 11, 2008.
  50. ^ 9/11: More than meets the eye by Richard Falk, The Journal, November 9, 2008.
  51. ^ UN Watch testimony, June 16, 2008
  52. ^ U.N. testimony, June 16, 2008
  53. ^ UN expert stands by Nazi comments, BBC, April 8, 2008

External links


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