THE TOP 20 UN WATCH MOMENTS OF 2016
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1. U.S. Congress Adopts Law Targeting U.N. Anti-Israel Bias: When the U.S. Congress wanted to evaluate the UN Human Right Council’s dismal record, the first group they called was UN Watch. Executive Director Hillel Neuer testified at the hearing, along with senior officials of the State Department. Subsequently, the Congress adopted new legislation requiring the administration to report on steps taken to remove the UNHRC’s permanent agenda item targeting Israel.
2. Global Truth-Telling Impact: In the past year, UN Watch delivered 65 speeches to the UN on 26 different country situations; gave 33 lectures before campus and other audiences; brought 34 guest speakers to testify at the UN and before other influential assemblies; achieved 579 media hits in leading newspapers with op-eds, quotes, and TV interviews; surpassed 5.5 million YouTube views; produced 200 videos; and reached 86,000 Facebook fans, 38,000 Twitter followers, and 45,000 email subscribers, including lawmakers, diplomats, and journalists.
3. Dictatorships Fail to Silence UN Watch: Executive Director Hillel Neuer, in the March 2016 session of the UN Human Rights Council, openly challenged the qualifications of dictatorships who sit as members. In reaction, delegates from Cuba, China, Russia, Pakistan, and Venezuela urged the president to stop Mr. Neuer. However, UN Watch’s right to speak was defended by the U.S., Britain, the Netherlands, and Canada. With only three seconds left on the clock, Neuer’s reply—“You can censor at home, but not at the United Nations”—drew applause from human rights activists in the chamber. Watch video
4. Combating North Korean Atrocities: UN Watch was a leading voice for victims of atrocities committed by the regime in North Korea—one of the worst human right abusers on the planet. In March, we brought defectors to speak at the UN. In September, UN Watch launched a global campaign urging members of the UN Security Council to send the North Korean Dictator, Kim Jong-un, to the International Criminal Court. UN Watch rallied over 10,000 individuals to sign a petition demanding UN action, creating headlines in top Korean newspapers.
5. Training Interns From Around the World: UN Watch prepared the next generation by hosting and training 20 dynamic university student interns from diverse countries. Each intern was given the opportunity to research, write and deliver their own UN speech—the opportunity of a lifetime.
6. Turned Spotlight on Worst Abusers: UN Watch led a coalition of 25 NGOs in organizing the 8th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights, featuring prominent activists and victims who turned a rare spotlight on the world’s most urgent human rights situations: Iran, North Korea, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela, and ISIS. The conference drew an audience of 700 human rights activists, diplomats, journalists and students. Worldwide media coverage exceeded 85 separate stories in TV, radio, and newspapers.
7. PLO Outraged After UN Watch Blocks Biased Candidate: Despite her unanimous top ranking by a UN vetting committee, and backing from the PLO, extremist London professor Penny Green was rejected for the post of UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine—as a result of UN Watch’s protest campaign, supported by thousands of followers. Outraged, Palestinian representative Ibrahim Khraishi took the floor in the Human Rights Council to lash out at UN Watch, accusing the group of “allegiance to Israeli secret service.” In a 15-page report entitled “Mandate to Discriminate,” UN Watch showed how—despite the job’s required criteria of objectivity and impartiality—Ms. Green had previously compared Israel to ISIS, and referred to the Jewish state as “Apartheid Israel” and a “criminal government.”
8. Canada Slams UN’s Biased Palestine Investigator: When the UN Human Rights Council appointed biased Canadian law professor Michael Lynk to be the UN investigator of “Israel’s violations,” UN Watch exposed his true colors. As a result, Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion called on the UN to review Lynk’s appointment, saying that UN Special Rapporteurs needed to have “a track record that can advance peace in the region,” and to be “credible, impartial and objective.” Dion’s office expressed concerns about Lynk’s “suitability and impartiality.” This was a result of material uncovered by UN Watch.
9. Exposing W.H.O.’s Anti-Israel Vote: When the UK, France, Germany, along with other EU states, voted in favor of a UN resolution singling out Israel as the only violator of “mental, physical and environmental health” at the 2016 World Health Assembly, UN Watch was the one who exposed the absurdity, sparking outrage worldwide, including editorials in the Wall Street Journal and Canada’s National Post.
10. Hate Israel Day: Turning the Tables on the Bigots: At the UN Human Rights Council, Arab and Islamic states attacked the Jewish state in a special anti-Israel agenda item. UN Watch was the first to take the floor, exposing the fact that Western countries had boycotted the biased debate.
11. UN Renews Iran Monitoring After UN Watch Victims Testify: As the Human Rights Council was deciding on whether to renew its monitoring of the human rights situation in Iran, UN Watch helped tip the scales by organizing a UN side event featuring testimony by Iranian human rights activists Darya Safai and Maryam Faghihimani. This was covered by major media including the L.A. Times, and contributed to the successful vote for renewal.
12. Exposing UN Election of Syrian Regime: When the UN elected the mass murdering Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to a leadership posts on its Special Committee on Decolonization, UN Watch sounded the alarm, sparking a New York Post editorial, “The United Nations’ sick honoring of Syria’s butchers.”
13. UN Watch Protests UNESCO Bid to Deny Jewish Ties to Western Wall: When an inflammatory Jordanian-Palestinian draft resolution on the Old City of Jerusalem was submitted to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in July, UN Watch sounded the alarm, publishing influential reports and updates on Twitter and Facebook followed by a global audience. Thanks to UN Watch, UNESCO’s absurdity was reported by Newsweek, the Miami Herald, and in i24 News TV interviews with UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, as well in many other media outlets.
14. Exposing UN General Assembly’s Anti-Israel Bias: As the UN General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions against Israel in November and December — while adopting only 4 against the entire rest of the world combined — UN Watch sprang into action, publishing reports, releasing videos on social media, and circulating petitions to urge world leaders to end the bias. Thanks to UN Watch, the hypocrisy was exposed by a major New York Post editorial among numerous other media.
15. British House of Lords Hosts UN Watch Testimony on UN’s Anti-Israel Bias: In July, UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer spoke at event in the House of Lords of the British Parliament. On the following day, Baroness Ruth Deech, host of the event, submitted a parliamentary question challenging the UK government on their apparent support for Saudi Arabia’s re-election to the UN Human Rights Council.
16. Turkish Journalist Freed from Prison Thanks UN Watch for Campaign: When Turkish human rights advocate Orhan Kemal Cengiz was arrested at Istanbul airport as part of President Erdogan’s purge, UN Watch launched an intensive four-day campaign demanding his immediate release. “By arresting a prominent journalist, lawyer and human rights defender, the Turkish government has seriously compromised its claim to be defending democracy and the rule of law,” said Neuer. UN Watch’s social media appeals went viral. Upon his release a week later, Cengiz publicly expressed his gratitude: “Dear @UNWatch I am very moved by your passionate struggle to get me free,” he tweeted.
17. CNN Covers UN Watch Campaign to Fight UN Election of Dictators: When dictatorships including Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba and Russia ran for re-election to the UN’s highest human rights body in October, UN Watch led the global opposition. A series of high profile events featuring dissidents, victims and experts were held, including a Canadian Parliament press conference with MPs representing all of Canada’s leading political parties; a United Nations press conference in New York; and a panel at New York University. UN Watch and its partners urged democracies to oppose the re-election of abusers to the UN Human Rights Council, and released a report evaluating the candidate countries. UN Watch was quoted by CNN, Reuters, Wall Street Journal TV, USA Today, CTV, and the Globe and Mail. Although China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia won seats, Russia — for the first time in the body’s 70-year history — did not.
18. UN Watch Launches Viral Saudi Video: After Saudi Arabia was re-elected to the UNHRC, UN Watch launched a video as part of its campaign to expel the medieval monarchy from the world’s highest human rights body. The video went viral: to date, it has been viewed more than 800,000 times, reaching more than 2 million, making it the most widely-viewed and shared UN Watch video of the year. UN Watch’s campaign on Saudi Arabia was reported by the Wall Street Journal and Euronews.
19. Venezuela’s Cheating of Human Rights Review Exposed by UN Watch: In November, UN Watch exposed how Venezuela cheated the UN system for reviewing its human rights record by getting 500 fake groups to make non-governmental submissions praising Venezuela. UN Watch’s report revealed that the so-called expert groups included the “Bolivian Baseball Association,” the “Cuban Federation of Canine Sports,” and the “Association for Obvious Things,” a group in Slovenia that hailed Venezuela’s record on combating hunger. UN Watch’s report was picked up on social media, and reported by Spanish-speaking news outlets including La Vanguardia, Miami Diario, and El Nacional.
20. City of Chicago Recognizes UN Watch, Declares “Hillel Neuer Day”: In honor of the visit by the executive director of UN Watch, the Chicago City Council adopted a resolution declaring September 15, 2016, to be Hillel Neuer Day, in recognition of Neuer’s “contributions to promote peace, justice and human rights around the world.” Before an audience of 1,300 delegates, including diplomats and elected officials, Neuer delivered the keynote address for the Chicago Jewish Federation’s annual meeting.