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Op-Ed: The UNHRC's Standing Agenda Against Israel

Interview with Hillel Neuer of UN Watch: "Politicization reigns when it comes to Israel."
Published: Tuesday, November 05, 2013 10:54 PM


“Anti-Israel bias pervades the U.N. system. In 2012, its General Assembly adopted 22 resolutions against Israel – compared to four against the rest of the world.

“The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), located in Geneva, has a standing agenda item against Israel. It is the only country specifically targeted at every meeting. Not even major human rights abusers like China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria or Zimbabwe are subjected to such treatment.”

Hillel Neuer has been Executive Director of UN Watch since 2004. In 2013, Israel’s Maariv newspaper named him one of the top ten Jewish public figures who make the world a better place.

“UN Watch, founded in 1993, is the only U.N.-accredited NGO with a mandate to monitor the world organization by the yardstick of its own charter. It fights anti-Israel prejudice, holds the U.N. to account and defends human rights. To achieve these aims, it confronts dictatorships and double standards and fights back against attacks on Israel’s international standing. It pursues core human rights values.

"UN Watch also goes after U.N. officials who hide behind neutral mandates to wage political attacks against Israel, America and the Western world. Moreover, the organization influences decision-makers, and leverages a robust media presence to educate world opinion and expose human rights abusers.

“Each year, UN Watch brings together partner organizations and courageous dissidents for our annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Our assemblies shame the world’s worst abusers and give a voice to the world’s most needy human rights victims, those who are never given the U.N. podium.

Our Durban III parallel conference adopted a powerful declaration and draft U.N. resolutions condemning abuses by Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, Russia, Cuba and Zimbabwe. Social media helps our small organization reach a global audience. UN Watch’s YouTube channel has over 2 million views.

“UN Watch engages in private diplomacy and public advocacy, publishing reports, op-eds and press releases which are read by decision-makers, journalists and the public at large. We testify before government bodies such as the U.S. Congress and the British, Canadian and Norwegian Parliaments to educate and influence lawmakers. We also help voiceless victims by giving them a unique international platform.

“Thanks to UN Watch, former political prisoners from China, Iran, Libya, North Korea and Syria were able to confront their oppressors in dramatic U.N. Human Rights Council debates.

"One example was when, in 2009, the U.N.’s Durban II World Conference Against Racism was chaired by Gaddafi’s ambassador, Mrs. Najat Al-Hajjaji. UN Watch surprised her and embarrassed the Libyan regime by bringing a guest speaker, Ashraf El-Hojouj, an ethnic Palestinian who was one of the world’s best known victims of Libyan cruelty. A decade earlier, Libyan police had falsely accused him, together with five Bulgarian nurses, of poisoning 400 children with HIV. They were horribly tortured.”

Neuer remarks: “The UNHRC adopts more resolutions condemning Israel than it does for the rest of the world combined. In its March 2013 session, there were six politicized resolutions against Israel – and only four against all other countries. The vast majority of the world’s victims of gross and systematic violations failed to merit a single resolution. The UNHRC turns a blind eye to mass killings in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere, a clear denial of international due process.

“Furthermore, Israel is also the object of more emergency sessions than any other country in the world. One product of these sessions was the 2009 Goldstone Report, which excoriated Israel and exonerated Hamas.

"Yet another discriminatory situation is that Israel is the only country to be excluded from the UNHRC’s regional group system. Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan criticized this ‘long-standing anomaly,’ which prevents Israel from participating fully in the work of the organization. Sir Robert Jennings, former president of the International Court of Justice, said that it ‘places the U.N. in breach of its fundamental obligations regarding sovereign equality and is thus illegal.’

“Switzerland’s Jean Ziegler, a long-time UNHRC official who justified Hezbollah attacks on Israel, was re-elected in 2013. He is also notorious for supporting various dictators. UN Watch exposed his role as co-founder, co-manager and 2002 recipient of the Muammar Gaddafi Human Rights Prize, causing him to be condemned by the Swiss Parliament.

“While many UNHRC experts do important work, politicization reigns when it comes to Israel. Richard Falk, investigator on the Palestinian territories, is mandated by the Council to focus solely on Israel’s actions. They are presumed in advance to be violations of international law. His support for the Hamas terrorist organization is so extreme that even the Palestinian Authority asked him to resign.

"Thanks to UN Watch’s campaigning, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Falk’s remarks—a rare moment when the U.N. chief denounced a fellow U.N. official. This historic rebuke was a reminder that there are certain decent people in the U.N. who oppose the UNHRC’s systematic violation of the U.N. Charter’s equality guarantee.”