Countering anti-Israel bias at the UNHRC - World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress at the UNHRC

The WJC has been actively engaged for many years with the UN and its affiliated agencies, both in Geneva and New York, and has been an outspoken critic of the Council’s discriminatory actions. Since 2015, the World Jewish Congress has given more than 100 statements at the UNHRC in Geneva, advocating for human rights, the prioritization of Council’s role in combating antisemitism, and calling for the Council to abolish its biased and anti-Israel agenda item 7.

Countering anti-Israel bias at the UNHRC

As its name indicates, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is the premier international body established the protect the universal rights and liberties. Unfortunately, despite this honorable mission, the UNHRC has a long legacy of disproportionate focus on Israel through its standing Agenda Item 7. The agenda item calls for every UNHRC session to include a debate about Israel's human rights record, something that it is not done for any other country – even countries whose human rights abuses far outpace the Jewish State. The Council has adopted more resolutions and has held more special sessions against Israel than any other country in the world.

1. Israel is the only country that the UNHRC with a standing agenda item against it each session (Item 7)

Each session of the UNHRC follows a set agenda consisting of ten items. All these items, except from one, are phrased in a general and inclusive way and deal with different human rights issues. However, Item 7 is the only item which is country specific and singles out one country, Israel. The title of the item is “Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories.” Because of this Item, Israel is being disproportionally condemned during every session.

2. Israel is constantly faced with biased resolutions

Israel is condemned with 5 one-sided and biased resolutions each year whereas oppressive regimes like Iran and  North Korea are criticized in only one resolution and most of the world’s worst regimes are not subject to any criticism.

3. Israel faces more UNHRC special sessions than all other countries

The UNHRC has the ability to call special sessions on emergency human rights issues. Of the 23 sessions targeting specific countries, 9 have been against Israel, 5 focusing on Syria, 3 on Myanmar and one on Libya.

4. The Special Rapporteur ignores war crimes by Hamas and the PA and only investigates allegations against Israel

The UNHRC appoints special rapporteurs or independent experts on a particular country or theme. Its “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967” has a biased mandate that only looks into Israel and ignores abuses perpetrated by Hamas or the PA against Palestinians. It is also the only mandate that does not undergo regular review and renewal. Last but not least, the current mandate holder, Canadian law professor Michael Lynk, is a long-time anti-Israel activist, who lacks the necessary impartiality and professionalism.

5. The Council downplays actions of Hamas and other terrorist groups:

While obsessively focusing on Israel, the Council, in its debates, reports and resolutions, systematically ignores or downplays violations perpetrated by the Hamas against Israeli civilians.

6. Gross and systematic violations are continuously ignored

The Council takes no action on most of the gross and systemic violators around the world, thus not living up to its founding purposes.

7. Members of the UNHRC include some of the world’s worst human right abusers

Countries which are elected to the UNHRC must uphold “the highest standards of human rights.” However, the sad reality is that some of the world’s worst perpetrators of human rights abuses sit as judges and jury at the Council, granting impunity for most of the world’s worst regimes, including Iraq, and Pakistan.

8. Countries with human abuses hinder progress by voting in blocks

UNHRC members often vote in block on different issues which creates automatic majorities within the Council and hinders debate.

9. Council members often use the debate as an opportunity to grandstand and for their own political gain:

The debates of the Council are often politicized and divisive, an opportunity for grand standing for member states, and not a platform for constructive and productive engagement. Countries would rather avoid criticizing an ally or a friendly country than deal with the human rights issue at hand.

10. The Council often fails to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable

Due to these structural reasons, the Council regularly fails victims on the ground, lacks an ability to intervene ahead of time and perpetrators often go unpunished.

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