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UN Rights Council Slams Israel Again

Geneva, July 6, 2006  UN Watch commended the 11 democratic members of the UN Human Rights Council who today voted against its one-sided resolution condemning Israel for its actions connected to the current Gaza crisis.  The Council's first-ever Special Session, and the resolution, were initiated by Arab and Islamic countries.  The resolution passed over the objections of Canada, Japan, and EU-aligned members, on a vote of 29 in favor, 11 against, and 5 abstaining.

While UN Watch recognized the difficulties faced by Palestinians and the legitimacy of scrutinizing the actions of all governments, it condemned the Council for its unbalanced approach in this session.  "The resolution consists of a long litany of specific condemnations and demands against Israel, but says nothing about the Hamas government's role in the hostage-taking that precipitated the current crisis, or in perpetrating deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians," said Hillel Neuer, UN Watch Executive Director. 

"The session was fixed from the start," continued Neuer.  "The Arab Group's request was politically motivated, intended solely to target Israel."  Neuer described the session as "primarily consisting of anti-Israel tirades by Arab and Islamic states, with the spectacle of Sudan accusing others of 'war crimes'."  Non-governmental organizations were left literally speechless when the Islamic group moved to suspend debate right before they were slated to speak.

An attempt by Western countries to insert balancing language was rejected by the Islamic group, causing Japan, Canada and EU-aligned countries to vote no.  UN Watch commended the Council members that voted against the resolution:  Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. 

It also praised the United States, Australia, Canada, and Japan for speaking out against the biased nature of the proceedings.  The United States ambassador said that the U.S. government "does not believe that a special session should focus only on one aspect of this situation" and not take into account the Hamas government and Syrian roles.  The Australian representative called the Special Session "one-sided," and emphasized that "the singling out of  one side only for blame in a complex situation is unhelpful and will do nothing to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East."

Canada, a member of the Council, said that it "cannot accept the Council focusing all of its criticism on Israel while ignoring that party's legitimate security concerns.   It must also acknowledge that the Palestinian Authority has a responsibility to prevent the constant firing of rockets into Israel, to resolve the present hostage-taking crisis and to prevent the recurrence of further such criminal acts."  Japan, also a Council member, called the draft resolution "one-sided and not constructive."

Prior to its first regular Session, which took place from June 19 to 30, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the new Council to preserve its credibility, saying, “I hope we are not going to see a situation where the Human Rights Council focuses on Israel, but not on the others.”

Neuer expressed regret that a majority of Council members are “showing contempt for Mr. Annan’s urgent plea to leave behind the discredited Commission’s self-destructive obsession with bashing Israel, at the expense of urgent human rights situations affecting millions of victims in Darfur, China, Chechnya, and in so many other places across the globe.”

Similarly, other NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch, have separately called on the council “to avoid the selectivity that discredited its predecessor,” saying that “the council’s singling out the Occupied Palestinian Territories for special attention is a cause for concern.”

For more on the Special Session, click here.


UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information.