UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein slammed Israel for non-cooperation, lumping it in with Iran, Syria, and North Korea

GENEVA, Sept. 14, 2016 — Yesterday, as reported in the Jerusalem Post, UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein accused Israel of acting like Iran, Syria and North Korea by having “a long record of refusing to cooperate” with UN Human Rights Council inquiries and investigative mandates, however UN Watch took the floor today at the Council to remind him that he too has boycotted UN debates that he believes are biased and illegitimate.

In fact, noted UN Watch, Israel this week is hosting a UNHRC expert visit, and in the past has admitted many UN rights experts, and former rights chief Navi Pillay, both to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

In the presence of ambassadors and the High Commissioner himself, UN Watch exposed Zeid’s additional double standards, such as referring only to Palestinian territories as “occupied,” and his relative silence on grave abuses in Venezuela. Full speech below.

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Statement by UN Watch
Agenda Item 2: General debate on the oral update by the High Commissioner
Human Rights Council, 33rd Session
14 September 2016

Thank you, Mr. President.

We commend the High Commissioner for his statement highlighting abuses in many countries. At the same time, we wish to request some clarifications.

The High Commissioner rightly mentioned abuses by Venezuela, and said his office would speak out at “every opportunity.” If so, why has his Twitter account, followed by 1.5 million people, refused to post even one word on Venezuela over the past 6 weeks of escalating hunger, arbitrary arrests, and oppression?

The High Commissioner mentioned Crimea, Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabakh — yet failed to say that, under international law, these are occupied territories. Instead, he only used that term in one case: for the Palestinian territories. Why?

Finally, the High Commissioner criticized Iran, Syria and North Korea for refusing to cooperate with UN inquiries—and he then lumped in Israel with that list.

Let us be clear: UN Watch continues to demand that all countries cooperate with legitimate UN inquiries. But what if a UN mechanism is manifestly not legitimate?

The answer was provided three years ago by the High Commissioner himself, when he was Jordan’s ambassador to the UN.

In 2013, when the President of the UN General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic of Serbia, organized a debate about international tribunals, then-Ambassador Zeid refused to cooperate. He said: “When it became clear to us that there was a distinct agenda to this meeting—a ‘flavor’ to it—it seemed to me the president of the General Assembly was exploiting his position for a narrower aim, and that was unacceptable to us.”

Mr. President, when this Council’s inquiries prejudge Israeli guilt; disregard terrorist aggression; select biased judges who have done paid legal work for the PLO; and then hire biased staffers who are also spokespersons for the pro-Hamas flotilla—would not the High Commissioner agree, using his own words, that there is a ‘distinct agenda’, a ‘flavor’, to all of this?

Indeed, when this council literally has a distinct agenda item for Israel alone—next week’s Agenda Item 7—can there be any greater evidence of a ‘narrow aim’, which should be ‘unacceptable’ to all?

Thank you, Mr. President.

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