PRESS RELEASE

GENEVA, October 27, 2013 – The Geneva-based non-governmental group UN Watch today issued the following statement in reaction to Israel’s decision to return to the UN Human Rights Council, two days before a scheduled review of the Jewish state’s record on Tuesday.

“All countries need to open themselves to scrutiny, and sunlight is always the best disinfectant when applied with impartiality, equality and universality,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, which monitors the UN by the yardstick of its charter.

“Now is the time for the Council to show good faith on its part by heeding the calls of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and his predecessor Kofi Annan, to both remove the selective agenda item on Israel — the only provision of its kind focusing on a specific country — and to end the exclusion of Israel from any of the Council’s five regional groups,” Neuer added.

The Israel-only agenda was criticized by Mr. Ban on its adoption in June 2007 at the initiative of the Arab states. Mr. Ban “voiced disappointment at the Council decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.” Nevertheless, it still remains in place.

The council’s permanent investigator on Israeli violations is mandated by the council to examine only Israel and not Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, or any other Arab state or group. It is the only country mandate that examines the actions of only one side and that in advance presumes them to be violations. The one who holds the post, Richard Falk, has endorsed Hamas, praised 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and was condemned this year by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, the U.S., the UK, and Canada, for implying that the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks were the fault of the U.S. and Israel.

Quotes: Leading Figures on the UNHRC & Israel

Regional Group Exclusion

  • Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 25 March 1998, said that “Israel [is] the only Member State that is not a member of one of the regional groups…This anomaly should be corrected. We must uphold the principle of equality among all United Nations Member States.”
  •  Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 12 December 1999 remarked that “the exclusion of Israel from the system of regional groupings [and] the intense focus given to some of Israel’s actions, while other situations sometimes fail to elicit the similar outrage […] have given a regrettable impression of bias and one-sidedness.”
  • Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in regard to Israel’s exclusion from a regional group, said that “we must uphold the principle of equality among Member States. I shall keep encouraging all concerned to find a solution.”
  • Late UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio de Mello in Geneva advocated the inclusion of Israel in the Western group, lobbying ambassadors.
  • Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 15 March 2005 spoke of the “need to correct a long-standing anomaly that kep tIsrael from participating fully and equally in the work of the Organization” by including Israel as member of the Western European and Others Group in Geneva.
  • Sir Robert Jennings, QC, former President of the International Court of Justice, wrote that “Israel’s exclusion from the regional group system places the UN in breach of its fundamental obligations regarding sovereign equality and is thus illegal… The need now to redress it is urgent.”

Biased Agenda Item and Resolutions

  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 20 June 2007 criticized “the Council decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”
  • Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 25 March 1998 said that “I know that Israelis see hypocrisy and double standards in the intense scrutiny given to some of its actions, while other situations fail to elicit the world’s outrage and condemnations.”
  • Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his message to the Human Rights Council on 29 November 2006, expressed the hope that the Council would deal with the Middle East issue “in an impartial way” and “not allow it to monopolize attention at the expense of others where there are equally grave or even graver violations.”
  • Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, addressing the Security Council on 12 December 2006, remarked “I believe the actions of some UN bodies may themselves be counterproductive. The Human Rights Council, for example, has already held three special sessions focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict. I hope the Council will take care to handle the issue in an impartial way, and not allow it to monopolize attention at the expense of other situations where there are no less grave violations, or even worse.”

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