BBC responds to complaint about its description of Resolution 2334

As documented here at the time, the BBC’s coverage of UNSC Resolution 2334 included an item by Barbara Plett Usher broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on December 24th

Listeners were told that:

“The resolution could become a reference point for further moves against Israeli policy in international forums but not for the next US administration. Mr Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, has sided with the Israeli government on this. And although the resolution is legally binding, it doesn’t spell out consequences for ignoring it – which is what the Israelis have said they’ll do.” [emphasis added]

BBC Watch submitted a complaint in which we noted that by describing the resolution as “legally binding”, Plett Usher inaccurately suggested to listeners that it was adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter rather than Chapter 6. 

The response received from BBC Complaints includes the following:

“You were unhappy Barbara Plett Usher referred to UNSC resolution 2334 as “legally binding”.

We raised with the news editor, who in turn raised it with Barbara. Barbara responds:

“I was trying to make the broad point that the resolution binds together the UN legal arguments against settlements that could be used to take action in international courts. It seemed to me obvious that if no consequences are spelled out (as I noted) than it’s clearly not a Chapter 7 resolution.”

However, she acknowledges that she could have made things clearer and could have spoken with greater clarity.”

While a resolution passed under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter could be used in an evidentiary capacity in an international court, it can be challenged and is not “legally binding”.

Whether or not the average Radio 4 listener is aware of the difference between Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 resolutions and hence would not – as Plett Usher claims – have been misled by her description of Resolution 2334 as “legally binding” is of course debatable. 

9 comments on “BBC responds to complaint about its description of Resolution 2334

  1. The way Donald Trump’s potential acknowledgement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is also being reported badly by the BBC.In last night BBC1 11.00 p.m. news, we heard all the old stuff about “occupied East Jerusalem” but the item was reported much more fairly on the World Service 1.00 a.m. news which merely reported that Donald Trump was thinking of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem without the anti-Israel comment. On this morning’s BBC 1 “Breakfast” show, the BBC went back to its propagandist reporting and claimed that the Palestinians were saying that “this could harm the peace process”. How they could report this with a straight face is beyond me, the Palestinian attitude to the “Peace Process” is one of total negativity, Abbas does not want to end up on a slab in the morgue so he avoids a “Peace Process” like the plague.

  2. Hi Hadar, it’s all these tiny details and assumptions which over a period of time lead to inaccuracy and fake news reports. The BBC is very guilty of this. Maybe the ombudsman needs to give them clearer guidelines in a case like this when the reporter glosses over an important point and gives fuel for a 3 Rd party building something on this and causing what is eventually anti Israel propaganda to become fact

  3. No UN resolution is ‘legally binding’.
    None. Not one, not ever.
    The UN has no legal authority of any kind.

  4. As usual the bbc lies, resolutions are NOT legally binding. The medias words are systematically an INVERSION of truth, reality and the vision of a world that could live in peace if the medias were destroyed.

  5. It is time to labour the point that the Arabs caused their problems in Palestine by ignoring and defying UN181 – and 8 offers of a state since Peel inc in 1937. They have enough oil royalties to compensate their refugee families who are mostly resettled anyway and the longer the silly impudents carry on instead of signing a peace treaty ending their conflict and all claims the less they will ever get.

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  7. Plett Usher’s response is that of a small child caught lying, who then lies again to try to get out of it. It is not worthy of a professional, and she should be censured.

    The term “legally binding” has a meaning which is well known. It is a very clear and specific legal meaning. Plett Usher knows it very well. Trying to redefine that legal term to mean something asinine is the ploy of a person who, when faced with proof of their lies, simply lies again. Such a person has no place in journalism.

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