Libya, Qatar, and Zimbabwe were among members of the UN’s 54-nation Economic and Social Council, a principal organ of the world body, who voted on July 26th to single out Israel as the only country in the world to be rebuked by the council this year for allegedly violating women’s rights.
In a resolution adopted 37 to 6, with 4 abstentions (see breakdown below), the Jewish state was accused of being a “major obstacle” for Palestinian women “with regard to the fulfilment of their rights, and their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development of their society.”
The council declared that women and girls are impacted by the “continuing systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying Power.”
Despite the resolution’s global references to violence against women “in all its different forms and manifestations worldwide,” and to the need to eliminate violence against women in “all regions of the world,” Israel was the only country in the world targeted for criticism.
Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela were among the resolution’s sponsors, via the Group of 77, a bloc now made up of 134 states and represented this year by Cuba.
Out of 19 items on the UN Economic and Social Council’s 2023 agenda, only one—Item No. 16 against Israel—targeted a specific country. All the other focus areas concern general topics, such as disaster relief and the use of technology for development.
2/ According to the World Economic Forum's 2023 Global Gender Gap Report, the world's worst violators of women's rights include Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, DR Congo, Mali, Algeria, Qatar, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. None was condemned by @UNECOSOC. Only Israel. pic.twitter.com/rUNAUXCCdw
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) August 8, 2023
UN Ignores Palestinian Abuses, Violators Worldwide
The resolution turns a blind eye to how Palestinian women’s rights are impacted by their own governing authorities — the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas in Gaza. Nor does it make any criticism or any reference at all as to how women and girls are discriminated against within patriarchal Palestinian society. On the contrary, the resolution praises what it calls Palestinian “initiatives at the legislative, administrative and security levels to advance women’s rights.”
“ECOSOC’s 2023 session completely ignored the world’s worst abusers of women’s rights, refusing to pass a single resolution on the situation of women in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Iran, Algeria, Chad or Mali, which rank among the 10 worst violators of women’s rights in the world, according to the 2023 Global Gender Gap Report, produced by the World Economic Forum,” said Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch.
Neuer condemned the delegates’ “hijacking” of the UN body as a forum to target Israel. “At a time when rape is used as a tactic of war in Libya, UN experts have accused the Taliban in Afghanistan of ‘gender apartheid,’ Nigeria has 20 million female genital mutilation survivors, women can face jail time in Qatar for reporting sexual assault, and Zimbabwean women leaders are subjected to politically-motivated sexual violence and bullying, it is the theatre of the absurd for these misogynistic regimes to be singling out Israel — alone in the world — as an alleged violator of women’s rights,” said Neuer.
Britain & America Take the Floor to Call out Bias
Britain and the United States both took the floor to denounce the resolution’s selectivity. “We oppose the singling out and disproportionate focus on Israel in this resolution,” said the British delegate.
“We remain troubled by this body’s insistence on including political elements and one-sided condemnations that detract from the real challenges at hand,” said the American representative.
“This council needs to refocus its energy toward shared goals, as this resolution is unhelpful to all involved. Politicizing these issues brings into question the impartiality of assistance that so many provide to assist Palestinian women.”
“Politicized resolutions such as this do nothing to improve the situation. As such, we have no choice but to vote against this resolution,” added the American delegate.
UN Watch Calls Out France, Belgium, Italy For ‘Joining the Jackals’
UN Watch commended Britain, the United States, Canada, Czechia and Liberia for joining Israel in opposing the one-sided text.
“Yet we are disappointed in those democracies which joined the jackals in scapegoating the Jewish state, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and South Korea,” said Neuer.
ECOSOC also condemned Israel in a second resolution for allegedly violating the economic and social rights of Palestinians.
Discussion of the resolutions followed the presentation of a biased report by Tarik Alami, representative of the Beirut-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, the UN regional body for the Middle East that includes 18 Arab states, but not Israel.
Results of the vote to rebuke Israel on women’s rights:
37 YES: Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lao, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, Slovenia, Sweden, Tunisia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe.
6 NO: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Israel, Liberia.
4 ABSTAIN: Croatia, Guatemala, Ivory Coast, Slovakia.
Article by Jilly Rolnick, 2022-2023 Morris B. Abram Fellow at UN Watch.