It seems Israel is very close to gaining admission to the Western European and Others Group, one of the five geographical groupings at the United Nations. Now only one or two European states appear to be blocking Israel’s inclusion.

Analysis: An important group system exists within the UN to facilitate, among other things, election to critical UN decision-making bodies.

Of all 188 UN Member Sates, Israel is the only state excluded from membership in any regional group. This precludes it from serving on key bodies including the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the Commission on Human Rights.

Politically hostile states have prevented Israel’s inclusion into its natural geographical grouping, the Asia Group. So Israel has sought to be included in the Western European and Others Group of geographically dispersed Western democracies – a fine fit for the most democratic state in its region. However, admission depends on consensus of the group that includes states of  Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey and the USA.

Presently, it seems only a few states are holding-up Israel’s formal acceptance into the group. But up until now, Western European states have made an irrelevant linkage between Israel’s admission to the Western European and Others Group, and the bilateral Middle East peace process. They have also expressed concern that adding Israel to their group will increase competition for election to UN bodies.

However, what is at stake transcends politics. It goes to the question of whether the UN will treat all its members equally, a fundamental UN Charter principle. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has publicly urged the end to Israel’s anomalous treatment at the UN, calling for the “normalization of Israel’s status within the United Nations.”

The members of the Western European and Others Group should heed the Secretary-General’s call and take the lead by immediately inviting Israel to join their ranks. It is high time to renew a commitment to UN Charter principles by fully including a UN Member State in the group system.



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