GENEVA - Representatives of the World Jewish Congress took the floor of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in recent weeks during its 48th session to advocate for the rights of Jewish communities across the world, raise awareness of the dangerous spread of hate speech and xenophobia worldwide, and denounce the Council’s continued anti-Israel bias. The WJC delivered ten statements via video statement, two of which were delivered by members of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps, including a joint statement with the Muslim World League, and held several diplomatic meetings with the ambassadors of the Human Rights Council’s member states.
For the last couple years, WJC has been providing 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 whereby the human rights record of every UN member state is reviewed regularly. At this session, the presidents or directors of the Jewish communities of Estonia, Latvia and Paraguay delivered statements outlining human rights conditions in their countries and the Jewish community’s relationship with the government.
WJC welcomes historic joint statement led by Austria on antisemitism at UNHRC
In a statement supported by the World Jewish Congress and over 50 countries, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg made an unambiguous plea for members and observer states of the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to stand firm and united against antisemitism and other forms of racism during the Council’s 48th session.
In welcoming Austria’s statement, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said, “Amid rising antisemitism and hatred around the world, Foreign Minister Schallenberg’s message, supported by so many countries, is a much-needed call to action for all nations and governments.
I thank Austria for taking a lead on this issue, together with Czechia and Slovakia, at such a critical time and look forward to working together as we build a broad international coalition to fight this age-old hatred.”
WJC, Muslim World League share joint statement before UNHRC pledging promotion of human rights
The unprecedented declaration lays the groundwork for concrete meaningful cooperation on these critical issues and marks the first time such a coordinated statement has been presented by Jewish and Muslim representative groups before a UN body.
WJC cosponsors UN Human Rights Council side event on rise of hate speech
On 17 September, the WJC, together with the Greek, German and Swedish permanent missions to the United Nations in Geneva, and in partnership with UNESCO, held a side event entitled Education Against Hate Speech and Discrimination, which explored the challenges posed by the current climate of misinformation, exacerbated by social media and other platforms. The WJC gathering was held within the framework of Greece’s 2021 presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an international organization composed of 34 member-states that are dedicated to combating antisemitism and safeguarding the memory of the Holocaust.
The event featured remarks from Greek Ambassador and IHRA Chair Chris Lazaris; Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO Stefania Giannini; German Ambassador Michaela Küchler; Head of Secretariat for the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism Petra Mårselius; Prof. Fernand de Varennes; UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Prof. Nikos Panagiotou; IHRA’s Education Working Group Chair Sue Hampel; Program Specialist at UNESCO Karel Fracapane,; and Permanent Representative of Greece to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Panayotis Stournaras.
The UNHRC conducts three meetings every year - in March, June and September. The 48th session was held both in person and virtually. The 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council is scheduled to take place in March 2022.