GENEVA - Representatives of the World Jewish Congress took the floor at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva during its 51st session to discuss the dangers of antisemitism and totalitarianism and respond to the false and libelous allegations that Israel is an apartheid state. Overall, the WJC delivered five statements, one of which was a written statement, 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 members of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps to take the floor at the Human Rights Council and address the key issues affecting the Jewish people. Andrei-Iosef Schwartz of Romania, and Adam Hummel of Canada, respectively, addressed the dangers of totalitarian regimes, specifically Iran, and the need for a global coalition to combat antisemitism.
WJC also invited Masilo Klaas Mokgomole, a human rights activist from South Africa, to deliver a statement. Mokgomole reflected on his experience visiting Israel for the first time and coming to the realization that Israel was not an apartheid state as he had previously believed, but rather a “liberal democratic country where the rights of all citizens, irrespective of race or religion, are protecte
WJC welcomes Slovakia-led statement warning about antisemitism at UNHRC51
On behalf of 50 supporting countries, Slovak Foreign Minister Rastislav Káčer warned against the dangers of antisemitism and racism, saying that they “pose a constant and serious challenge to human rights and the dignity of every person,” during the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council. The statement was delivered on behalf of a wide cross-regional coalition that included the US, Canada, Australia, all EU member states, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, as well as Türkiye, the United Arab Emirates and many others.
In welcoming the statement, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said, “As Jew hatred continued to surge, Foreign Minister Rastislav Káčer’s words are a reminder that we must never remain complicit in the face of bigotry.”
“I thank Slovakia for taking a lead on this issue, together with Austria and Czechia, at such a critical time and look forward to working together as we build a broad international coalition to fight this age-old hatred.”
We are deeply concerned by the prejudices that are incited by conspiracy theories, often targeting Jewish communities,” said Foreign Minister Káčer. “As Holocaust denial and distortion, among others, are on the rise, we must ensure the accurate portrayal of history.”
The Foreign Minister pledged to counter hate speech and Holocaust denial and distortion online and called for the UN to mainstream the fight against antisemitism, noting that “Just as hatred and hate speech are constantly transforming and adapting to new realities, so must our joint fight against them in broad coalitions.”
The statement by Slovakia and the overwhelming support from dozens of UN member states is an outcome of the longstanding efforts by the World Jewish Congress at the United Nations to mainstream the fight against antisemitism across the organization.
To read the whole statement, click here.
Global experts address online hate during WJC hybrid event
The World Jewish Congress hosted a hybrid side-event to the Human Rights Council 51st session in late September discussing the strategies and good practices developed by United Nations Member States to combat hatred online. Some 40 countries were represented at the event, with around 20 ambassadors in attendance, including the President of the UN Human Rights Council Federico Villegas, as well as Ambassador Katharina Stasch of Germany and Ambassador Lotte Knudsen of the European Union, both of whom delivered welcoming remarks, stressing the importance of combating online hate in national and European digital strategies.
Following Ambassador Stasch and Ambassador Knudsen’s remarks, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Project Officer Heather Mann outlined the recently published UNESCO, United Nations and WJC report, which found that Holocaust denial and distortion remains widespread in social media, even when there are content moderation policies in place.
Subsequent to Mann’s remarks, Elizabeth Kanter of TikTok, Peggy Hicks of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Marc Limon of Universal Rights Group, and Yfat Barak-Cheney of the World Jewish Congress addressed the role that different elements of the international system can play in combating online hate during a panel discussion.
Amb. Desiree Schweitzer, Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN, announced the donation of €20 000 by the Austrian government to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, a contribution aimed to strengthen the Office’s efforts to address antisemitism and called for other UN Member States to join them in contributing to this important goal.
The Permanent Representative of Slovakia, Amb. Dusan Matulay, announced his country’s intent to present a joint statement against antisemitism, with a focus on the online sphere, at the current UNHRC session.