GENEVA - Representatives of the World Jewish Congress took the floor of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva during its 49th session to advocate for the rights of Jewish communities across the world; raise awareness of the dangers of antisemitism, racism and human rights abuses globally; and defend Israel from a report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur that falsely accuses Israel of practicing apartheid. The WJC delivered eleven statements, two of which were delivered by members of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps, and held several diplomatic meetings with the ambassadors of the Human Rights Council’s member states.
As it has done for the last few 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 in which the human rights record of every UN member state is reviewed regularly. At this session, the presidents of the Jewish communities of Greece, Hungary and Ireland delivered statements outlining human rights conditions in their countries and the Jewish community’s relationship with the government.
WJC participates in UN panel discussion on Racial Discrimination
Representatives of the World Jewish Congress delivered remarks during a United Nations Human Rights Council panel discussing racism in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The panel, on “Voices for Action against Racism,” featured speakers who are known for their active role in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
South African Jewish Board of Deputies President and WJC Vice President Mary Kluk was invited by the United Nations to participate as a panelist, reflecting on South Africa’s “extensive history of exclusion, which tragically continues in different forms today.”
Addressing the issues of racism and violence, Kluk noted that “what exacerbates the problem is when people in positions of power not only in South Africa but globally see migrants as a danger, [thus] deflecting [attention] from poverty, the rising unemployment crisis and the unprecedented climate crisis.”
Kluk outlined initiatives that the South African Jewish community is taking to address racism, noting that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies is a founding member of the Hate Crimes Working Group, and is also a member of the network’s Steering Committee representing not only the Jewish community of South Africa but also the faith-based sector.
Dr. Leon Saltiel, the WJC representative in Geneva to the United Nations and UNESCO and the WJC coordinator on countering antisemitism, outlined the actions WJC is taking to combat antisemitism and other types of hate.
Concluding his remarks, Saltiel said, “The World Jewish Congress is convinced that all our struggles will be stronger if we support and speak out in favor of each other’s causes. In that respect, we would like to ask the panelists for their suggestions on how activists fighting hate can join forces with a common purpose.”
Watch the full panel here.
WJC cosponsors United Nations Commission on the Status of Women parallel event
On 14 March, the World Jewish Congress hosted a parallel event to the 66th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) entitled Empowering Women: Corporate Policies and Practices Inspiring Faith-Based Organizations to explore ways in which leaders can create a more inclusive and equitable work culture to combat gender discrimination.
The event featured remarks from CEO of Equality Forward Michelle Penelope King; Professor David G. Smith of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School; Commissioner for Gender Equality for the Latin American Jewish Congress Vicky Chehebar; Chair of WJC’s Jewish Diplomatic Corps Sonat Birnecker Hart; and President of the WJC-affiliated Coordination Committee of the Jewish Organizations of Belgium and WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps Member Yohan Benizri.
The UNHRC conducts three meetings every year—in March, June and September. The 50th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council is scheduled to take place in June 2022.