Who We Are

The UN Watch Database is a project of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization accredited in special consultative status with the United Nations, whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the world body by the yardstick of its own Charter. With this website, UN Watch aims to provide citizens around the world with essential and constantly updated data and analysis on how dictatorships dominate UN human rights bodies, how UN resolutions single out Israel for differential and discriminatory treatment, and on how each country votes. Armed with this knowledge, citizens can take action by petitioning their governments for change.

The Problem

The principles of universality and equality are pillars of the United Nations, enshrined in its founding documents—the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In upholding these core documents, the United Nations is the primary international body mandated to speak out for human rights victims and to condemn human rights violators, universally and without discrimination. Regrettably, however, millions of human rights victims around the world are routinely ignored by the UN. Instead of condemning their oppressors, all too often the UN awards powerful dictatorships, such as China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, with positions of honor. At the same time, UN bodies obsessively target Israel—the only Jewish State and the only democracy in the Middle East—with one-sided resolutions, and an astonishing amount of disproportionate condemnations, adopted year after year. All the moral outrage not exercised against China, Cuba, Russia, Turkey, Venezuela and Zimbabwe is directed against the world's only Jewish state, even as those who attack it, like the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terrorist group, are coddled. This corruption of the United Nations’ founding principles and ideals should be a matter of grave concern for all who value democracy, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. Regrettably, instead of using their power to challenge and improve the system, most Western democracies enable moral corruption at the United Nations values by simply going along to get along. With this website, you have the information and tools to make a difference and demand change.

Features

This website provides three main features. 1. Dictatorships on UN Bodies Updated list of the repressive regimes currently serving on the Human Rights Council, UN Women Executive Board, the Commission on the Status of Women, UNESCO Executive Board, and the Committee on NGOs. These UN bodies matter because they deal with human rights and because their members are elected. Dictatorships seek election to these UN bodies to prevent their regimes from being condemned, to dilute the meaning of human rights, and as a false badge of honor — to claim that the world has recognized them as champions of human rights. 2. Key UN Data on Countries For each UN Member State, there is a country page with key data about the country, including the Freedom House rating for that country, population, GDP, years of membership in the Human Rights Council (if relevant), human rights record, UN actions against that country, current memberships in UN bodies, as well as the country's voting record on Israel, with a link to our petition requesting that country to change its votes. This page also allows the user to compare how two different countries voted on Israel at the UN General Assembly. Information for this page comes from several sources. The freedom rating comes from Freedom House, an institute dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world. Other basic country data—population and GDP—come from the UN Department of Economic Affairs statistical and population divisions. The information on country human rights abuses is taken from organization that globally review countries’ human rights records such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department, and other publicly available news sources. The remainder of the data on this page comes from various United Nations webpages. 3. Database of United Nations Country Resolutions This section of the website contains all country resolutions adopted by the General Assembly from 2015-present; Human Rights Council from 2006-present; UNESCO from 2015-present; and Commission on the Status of Women from 2015-present. These are the main UN bodies that single out Israel for disproportionate condemnation each year. On the Home Page, we feature statistics only from the General Assembly, Human Rights Council and Commission on the Status of Women. The database is updated shortly after the end of each relevant session. The database can be used as a research tool, as it allows the user to sort resolutions by the following filters:

  • Year - 2006 to present for the Human Rights Council, and 2015 to present for the other UN bodies.
  • UN body - Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), General Assembly (GA), Human Rights Council (HRC), UNESCO, and World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Session Number - Here we included only HRC regular sessions (held three times per year) and UNESCO Executive Board sessions (held twice per year) and UNESCO General Conference sessions (held once every other year), as these cannot be easily isolated using the other filters. HRC special sessions can be easily found through other filters. The sessions of the other UN bodies can also be easily found using other filters as those bodies meet only once per year.
  • Session Type - for the UN bodies that have different types of sessions: GA Emergency, GA Regular, HRC OM (Organizational Meeting), HRC Regular, HRC Special, UNESCO EB (Executive Board), UNESCO GC (General Conference).
  • Agenda Item - This includes the relevant agenda items of the Human Rights Council, as these agenda items show discriminatory treatment of Israel.
  • Country concerned - This is the country spotlighted or discussed in the resolution.
  • Main Sponsor - The country or group of countries that submitted the resolution.
  • Condemnatory - Our conclusion as to whether or not the resolution is condemnatory, as defined below in the Methodology section.
  • Criticism - Whether the resolution contains criticism.
  • Praise - Whether the resolution contains praise.

Methodology

As a rule, UN resolutions are diplomatic — the texts are general, broad, and avoid ruffling feathers; they do not name names or point fingers at specific countries. Our review, however, concerns the exceptions: those resolutions where a particular country was spotlighted. We seek to examine what are, in effect, the prosecutorial and judicial functions of UN human rights bodies. Who do they criticize? Are all countries treated alike? (For the Human Rights Council, we do not include resolutions adopting a country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), as all countries are subject to UPR review at regular intervals, and thus these resolutions are rote and do not reflect any choice by the Human Rights Council to spotlight the human rights record of any particular country. Similarly, for the General Assembly, we do not include resolutions originating in the decolonization committee calling for the independence of certain territories. These resolutions are adopted by consensus as a matter of routine and are not much discussed.) CONDEMNATORY & NON-CONDEMNATORY RESOLUTIONS When a UN body adopts a resolution addressing a specific country, member states must decide among numerous options depending on whether they wish to signal condemnation of the country concerned, or something else. Our analysis of each resolution, and determination of whether it is considered condemnatory, weighs all of the following factors: • Agenda Item – For resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council, we consider under which Agenda Item the Resolution is adopted. The most common agenda items for country resolutions are 2, 4, 10 and 7. Agenda Item 4 – “Human rights situations that require the council’s review.” This is the primary framework for addressing country-specific human rights situations, and signals criticism. Item 4 resolutions are presumed to be condemnatory, unless other factors clearly indicate that the resolution is not condemnatory. Agenda Item 10 – “Technical assistance and capacity-building.” Item 10 indicates review of a country situation for purposes of providing mere “technical assistance,” signaling an uncritical approach. Item 10 resolutions are presumed to be non-condemnatory, unless other factors clearly indicate that the resolution is condemnatory. Agenda Item 7 – “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” This is the discriminatory Agenda Item that singles out Israel for censure, signaling criticism of Israel. • Special Session – Special sessions signal an emergency, a crisis human rights situation that requires the international community to sound an alarm. Because of its headline-grabbing nature, there is a presumption that the resolution resulting from a special session — which turn a powerful world spotlight on the country concerned — is condemnatory. But this is not always the case. If the outcome resolution fails to clearly and directly condemn a government, contains a significant amount of praise, or fails to genuinely reflect the true gravity of the situation, the resolution may be deemed non-condemnatory. For example, the outcome resolution of the May 2009 Special Session on Sri Lanka praised the Sri Lankan government for its policies, and failed to address serious human rights abuses by government forces. • Content – We examine whether the resolution contains criticism or praise, the percentage of criticism versus praise, and the object of criticism, i.e., whether directed toward a government or some other group or entity. General criticism or expression of concern that is not specifically directed at a government is a clear indication that the council opted for a resolution that is non-condemnatory. This finds expression in commonly used general or vague language when referring to perpetrators of human rights abuses, e.g., “all parties” or “all actors.” These terms are weak, and fail to directly call out a government and hold it responsible. Strong praise of the country concerned, particularly where there is no criticism or only a minimal amount, signals that the council chose not to be condemnatory. • Degree of Criticism – We examine whether the resolution employs clearly condemnatory language concerning the government under review, such as “condemn,” “deplore,” or “deeply concerned” — or rather softer or neutral language such as when the council only “calls upon” or “urges” a country to take action, or merely “notes” certain issues. A call for action or implied criticism will not necessarily indicate condemnation where the language is is decidedly non-condemnatory. • Context – We consider essential context surrounding the adoption of the resolution, including: whether the country concerned or its allies sponsored, supported or opposed the resolution; whether the text of the resolution was significantly watered down prior to being adopted; whether the final text adequately reflects the gravity of events occurring at the time in that country; and how it compares to prior resolutions on the country. As a rule, countries vigorously oppose the initiation of any resolution that criticizes their conduct, and will exert enormous efforts, including political and economic pressure, to lobby council members. By contrast, where the country concerned or its allies support a resolution, this typically indicates that the resolution was either designed from the start as a non-condemnatory resolution, for example a text calling for international aid money to be given to that country, or that a resolution originally intended to be a censure was sufficiently diluted through negotiations. A text that was significantly weakened, which does not reflect the gravity of the situation, indicates to the world that the resolution is non-condemnatory. • Investigative Mechanism – If a resolution creates or extends the mandate of an independent monitor of the country concerned — known as "Special Procedures," a term that includes a Special Rapporteur, Independent Expert, or Working Group — this indicates an element of condemnation, particularly where this is opposed by the country concerned. Likewise, the creation of a Commission of Inquiry is a strong indication of condemnation. Discontinuation of a critical special procedure in a resolution indicates the opposite — that the council has exonerated the country concerned. Where the mandate of the special procedure is primarily concerned with providing technical assistance and advice, rather than critical human rights review, this does not indicate condemnation. • Vote vs. Consensus – The manner of adoption of the resolution also provides insight into whether or not it is regarded as condemnatory. A genuinely condemnatory resolution is almost always vigorously contested by the country concerned and its allies, as manifest in the votes. If the country concerned or its close allies supported the resolution, this generally indicates that the resolution was devoid of condemnation. Adoption by consensus — meaning that no country even called for a vote, allowing it to pass uncontested — signifies a weak text.