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UN Watch Briefing

Issue 432  

UN Watch Welcomes News of Israel's
Expected Return to UN Rights Council

GENEVA, May 7, 2013 UN Watch today welcomed news that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a diplomatic initiative, with the help of Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, to return to the UN Human Rights Council, and called on the 47-nation body to ensure its success by removing provisions that both Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan criticized as discrimnatory against the Jewish state. (See quotes at bottom.)

"It is vital for the United Nations that every country be present, and it is in Israel's interest to partcipate fully and make its case in all major international bodies," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

"However, the council must show good faith by removing its notorious agenda item on Israel, the only provision of its kind that requires a special and separate focus on a particular country at every meeting," said Neuer. "Not even gross abusers like China, Sudan, or Syria, nor any other country in the world, is subjected to this kind of treatment."

"Under that item, in its last session in March, the council adopted six resolutions condemning Israel -- while it adopted only four resolutions condeming other countries around the world, one each on Syria, Iran, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The plight of the vast majority of the world’s victims of gross and systematic violations—from China to Saudi Arabia, Cuba to Zimbabwe—failed to merit a single resolution."

Israel is the only UN member state excluded from the regional group system at the council. Neuer called on the UN to end this "violation of basic equality and due process," saying "EU states should enable Israel to join the council's Western group, to which it was admitted at the UN in New York over a decade ago."

"Moreover, the council’s permanent investigator on Israeli violations is mandated by the council to examine only Israel and not Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, or any other Palestinian actor. It's the only country mandate that examines the actions of only one side, and presumes them to be violations," added Neuer.

"The one they chose for the job, Richard Falk, endorses Hamas, praises 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and was just condemned two weeks ago by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, the US, the UK, and Canada for implying the Boston attacks were somehow the fault of the U.S. and Israel."

"The United Nations must stop violating its own charter guarantee to respect the equal rights of nations large and small, and the Human Rights Council must respect its own principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity," said Neuer.

Quotes and Key Facts on UNHRC Treatment of Israel

Regional Group Exclusion

• UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 25 March 1998, said that “Israel [is] the only Member State that is not a member of one of the regional groups...This anomaly should be corrected. We must uphold the principle of equality among all United Nations Member States.”

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 12 December 1999 remarked that “the exclusion of Israel from the system of regional groupings [and] the intense focus given to some of Israel’s actions, while other situations sometimes fail to elicit the similar outrage […] have given a regrettable impression of bias and one-sidedness.”

Kofi Annan, in regard to Israel’s exclusion from a regional group, said that “we must uphold the principle of equality among Member States. I shall keep encouraging all concerned to find a solution.”

Late UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio de Mello actively lobbied Ambassadors in Geneva for the inclusion of Israel into the Western group.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 15 March 2005 spoke of the “need to correct a long-standing anomaly that kep tIsrael from participating fully and equally in the work of the Organization” by including Israel as member of the Western European and Others Group in Geneva.

Sir Robert Jennings, QC, former President of the International Court of Justice, wrote that “Israel’s exclusion from the regional group system places the UN in breach of its fundamental obligations regarding sovereign equality and is thus illegal… The need now to redress it is urgent.”

Biased Agenda Item and Resolutions

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 20 June 2007 criticized “the Council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item given the range of human rights violations throughout the entire world,” referring to item 7 on the Council’s agenda.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 25 March 1998 said that “I know that Israelis see hypocrisy and double standards in the intense scrutiny given to some of its actions, while other situations fail to elicit the world’s outrage and condemnations.”

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his message to the Human Rights Council on 29 November 2006, expressed the hope that the Council would deal with the Middle East issue “in an impartial way” and “not allow it to monopolize attention at the expense of others where there are equally grave or even graver violations."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, addressing the Security Council on 12 December 2006, remarked “I believe the actions of some UN bodies may themselves be counterproductive. The Human Rights Council, for example, has already held three special sessions focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict. I hope the Council will take care to handle the issue in an impartial way, and not allow it to monopolize attention at the expense of other situations where there are no less grave violations, or even worse.”





Read our recent editions:

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  • Clash at UN: China Fails to Stop UN Watch Testimony by Daughter of Jailed Democracy Leader Wang Bingzhang
  • Issue 482
  • Clash at UN Assembly: Venezuela Objects as Aunt of Jailed Opposition Leader Calls for Urgent Human Rights Council Debate
  • Issue 481
  • The tragic farce of the UN Human Rights Council
  • Issue 480
  • Richard Falk’s wife is top nominee for a post on the Human Rights Council
  • Issue 479
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