GENEVA - Representatives of the World Jewish Congress took the floor at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva during its 50th session to raise awareness of the dangers of antisemitism, bigotry, and human rights abuses globally, outline the importance of education and promote the ability to closely monitor disinformation campaigns. Overall, the WJC delivered seven statements, and held several diplomatic meetings with the ambassadors of the Human Rights Council’s member states.
As it has done for several years, WJC provided an opportunity to its affiliated Jewish communities around the world to take the floor at the Human Rights Council during the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reports of their respective countries in order to propose concrete measures on how to further enhance efforts to combat antisemitism.
The UPR is a HRC process in which the human rights record of every UN member state is reviewed regularly. At this session, Jewish Community of Lithuania President Faina Kukliansky and Jewish Community of Moldova Director Aliona Grossu gave recommendations to better foster Jewish life in their respective countries. Previous sessions have featured remarks from the presidents of the Jewish communities of Greece, Hungary and Ireland, among other members of WJC’s over 100 affiliates from across the world.
UN Commission of Inquiry on Israel reflects deep bias, says World Jewish Congress
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder condemned the United Nations Commission of Inquiry’s passage of a report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that blamed Israel for recent tensions.
“The existence of the Commission of Inquiry on Israel itself speaks to the body’s biases and perpetuates a false narrative that distorts the facts and blindly ignores Palestinian terrorism that targets civilians. As a group of UN Special Rapporteurs recently cautioned, inflammatory rhetoric during spikes of violence in the Middle East could lead Jewish persons and sites to be subjected to violence, discrimination and harassment,” President Lauder said.
“On behalf of the World Jewish Congress, I echo this concern and call on the UN Human Rights Council to disband this fatally flawed Commission of Inquiry. Maligning and isolating Israel on the international stage, as the commission attempts to do, will not bring peace. Peace can only come from a recognition that the existence of the Jewish state is undebatable,” President Lauder concluded.
Global experts address UN antisemitism plan during WJC hybrid event
On the sidelines of the UNHRC, the World Jewish Congress together with the Permanent Missions of Sweden and Israel in Geneva hosted an event outlining the UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed’s 8-point action plan for advancing the fight against antisemitism.
The eight-point plan, which was welcomed by the WJC, seeks to help key stakeholders as they address the challenges of antisemitism around the world. It includes recommendations on how to react to antisemitic incidents, establish national structures, promote educational activities and monitor hate crimes. In addition, the plan contains a section on ensuring Jewish communities’ physical safety and ability to practice religion, as well as actions the United Nations and governments should take at the international level.
The report specifically urges governments to use the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism as a non-legally binding educational and training tool and incorporate it into training materials for officials such as police, prosecutors and judges, government employees, educators and those working for national human rights institutions.
The event, which included an address by the President of the UNHRC Federico Villegas and was attended by several Geneva Ambasasdors, was moderated by Ambassador Ulrika Sundberg, Special Envoy for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue of Sweden, who noted “the exponential increase of hate speech also on social media, including antisemitism, in many parts of the world.”
The World Jewish Congress, which has worked closely with Dr. Shaheed during his UN mandate, facilitated high-level consultations on key issues in Budapest, together with the Jewish communities of Poland and Hungary. In addition, the WJC has collaborated with Dr. Shaheed on a range of issues that include combating antisemitism and conspiracy myths, online antisemitism, the importance of education, the role of the United Nations, WJC’s SECCA Forum, and a tribute at the conclusion of his mandate.
The UNHRC conducts three meetings every year—in March, June and September. The 51st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council is scheduled to take place in September 2022.