UN Watch In the News — February 2021

UN Watch was quoted in multiple media outlets during February 2021 on topics including: Human Rights Watch head blames U.S. for anti-Israel bias at the UN Human Rights Council; U.S. returns to the UNHRC; UN Watch executive director interviewed; UN Watch releases report highlighting anti-Israel bias at the UNHRC; Syria set to be elected to top U.N. human rights forum.

At United Nations Side Event Organized by UNW, Venezuelan Opposition Calls to Expel Maduro Regime from UNHRC

The Associated Press (Spanish) reporting on UN Watch’s event,  in “Opponents of Maduro: Expel Venezuela from Human Rights Council,” Feb. 24, 2021:

Several voices asked on Wednesday that Venezuela be expelled from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is currently holding its annual debate sessions and will analyze the human rights situation in the Latin American country.

Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States; Diego Arria, Venezuela’s former ambassador to the UN and María Corina Machado, national coordinator of the opposition party Vente Venezuela, were among those who made the call.

“It makes a mockery of the victims, it makes a mockery of those who have been tortured, it makes a mockery of the relatives of those who have been extrajudicially executed that the regime sits on the Human Rights Council,” Almagro said in a virtual conference jointly organized by the non-profit organization UN Watch.

Cited by the Daily Signal, “UN Human Rights Council Should Condemn Nicolas Maduro, Not Give Him a Platform to Speak On,” Feb. 24, 2021:
The Human Rights Council has received substantial criticism from allowing Maduro to speak at the first day of the session, and it is well deserved. Some organizations like U.N. Watch have started petitions that call on the U.N. General Assembly to remove Maduro’s regime from the council for its gross violations of human rights.

Human Rights Watch Head Blames U.S. for Anti-Israel Bias at the UNHRC

Quoted in The Algemeiner, “NGO Head Blames US for Anti-Israel Bias at UN Human Rights Council,” Feb. 19, 2021:

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the watchdog UN Watch, countered that the body’s focus on Israel was a symptom of bias — not past US policy.

“Ken Roth is lying. The U.S. is not to blame for the fact that the PLO, Arab League & Islamic Group introduce an absurd amount of one-sided resolutions in the Human Rights Council that demonize Israel and incentivize Hamas to launch more terror attacks,” Neuer wrote.

U.S. Returns to the UNHRC

Quoted in the Wall St. Journal, “U.S. to Resume Work With U.N. Human Rights Council,” Feb. 8, 2021:

Hillel C. Neuer, executive director at U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based agency that monitors the world body, said the Biden administration “should be candid in calling out the council’s abuses, and holding their feet to the fire.”

Quoted in the Wall St. Journal, “Hope Over Experience at the U.N.,” Feb. 8, 2021:

The U.S. is joining the council as an observer immediately and will seek full membership when possible. It shouldn’t be hard to meet the organization’s expectations. Well over half of its members “fail to meet the minimal standards of a free democracy,” according to UN Watch.

Like so many other U.N. institutions, the council also has a malign obsession with Israel. It has condemned the Jewish state some 90 times since its founding in 2006. No other country comes close. By UN Watch’s count, Syria and North Korea earned 13 and 35 condemnations. Russia and China? Zero.

Quoted in U.S. News and World Report and Associated Press, “U.S. plans to reengage with U.N. rights council, reversing Trump,” Feb. 8, 2021:

Hillel Neuer, the executive director of advocacy group UN Watch, which often decries the council’s excessive focus on Israel, said the Obama administration had had a “tendency to become a cheerleader for the council” — and called on the Biden team to avoid it, and instead call out the council’s “abuses.”

“The cost of the U.S. decision to rejoin is that it gives legitimacy to a council where tyrannies and other non-democracies now comprise 60 percent of the membership,” Neuer said.

“In exchange, the U.S. must demand serious reform, removing despots from the council such as Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro regime, holding dictators to account, and removing the agenda item that targets Israel in each session, the only one to focus on a single country,” he added.

Quoted on Fox News, “Blinken expresses intention to return to UN Human Rights Council,” Feb. 24, 2021:

Hillel Neuer, the executive director of advocacy group UN Watch, said the Obama administration had had a “tendency to become a cheerleader for the council.” He called on the Biden administration to instead call out the council’s “abuses.”

Quoted in the Jerusalem Post, “US pendulum swings back into the UN Human Rights Council,” Feb. 2, 2021:

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer argued that the US rejoining the UNHRC “gives legitimacy to a Council where tyrannies and other non-democracies now comprise 60% of the membership, and where serial abusers like China, Russia, Cuba, Turkey and Pakistan get a free pass, escaping any censure.”
Quoted in The Algemeiner, “US Return to ‘Broken’ UN Human Rights Council Met With Skepticism by Human Rights Advocates,” Feb. 8, 2021:

UN Watch — a Geneva-based human rights NGO that monitors the international organization — argued in a statement that the “cost of the US rejoining is that it lends legitimacy to a council where tyrannies and other non-democracies now comprise 60 percent of the membership, including serial abusers of human rights like China, Russia, Cuba, and Pakistan, all of whom have escaped any censure in the form of a council resolution, inquiry or urgent session.”

UN Watch’s director, Hillel Neuer, said that in exchange for re-engaging with the UNHRC, the US “at a minimum must demand serious reform, removing despots from the Council such as Venezuela’s Maduro regime, holding dictators to account for their oppression, and ending the notorious agenda item that targets Israel alone in each session.”

Interviewed on i24 News, “Blinken evades answering if Biden administration endorses Trump’s recognition of Golan Heights,” Feb. 9, 2021:

UN Watch Executive Director Interviewed

Interviewed by JNS, “Hillel Neuer ‘not surprised’ by Biden’s return to UNHRC, but sees chance to hold abusers to account,” Feb. 17, 2021:

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch—a Swiss-based NGO that monitors the actions of the United Nations—has drawn praise for his fearless rebukes of dictatorial regimes who single out Israel criticisms, while ignoring human-rights violations elsewhere. His widely viewed 2017 speech “Algeria, Where Are Your Jews?” illustrates the hypocrisy of Arab nations that criticize Israel, but ignore their own terrible human-rights records. The speech has been viewed more than 5 million times.

In a phone interview from Israel, Neuer, who is Jewish and originally from Montreal, spoke to JNS about such subjects as anti-Semitism and the coronavirus, the U.S. decision to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council and the treatment of the Uyghurs in China.

UN Watch Releases Report Highlighting Anti-Israel Bias at UNHRC

Quoted in the Jerusalem Post, “UN Watch report highlights anti-Israel bias at UN Human Rights Council,” Feb. 2, 2021:

“Israel has become a convenient punching bag and scapegoat for non-democratic states, many of them members of the UNHRC such as Cuba, Pakistan, and Libya, to divert attention away from their own gross and systematic human rights abuses,” said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer in response to the report.

“It makes sense for democracies not to legitimize discrimination, but the problem is that many spurious claims go on the record at the United Nations with no fact-checking or accountability. This report provides the first examination of claims made under Item 7, using detailed analysis and citing sources of fact and international law. It’s time to confront the toxic brew of hate and misinformation at the UN,” Neuer added.

Featured by JNS, “New report by human-rights group responds to anti-Israeli bias perpetuated at UNHRC,” Feb. 12, The Algemeiner, Feb. 14, and the Jewish Journal, Feb. 15, 2021:

Geneva-based independent human-rights group UN Watch published a detailed report in advance of the 46th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is scheduled to open this month on Feb. 22 in Geneva and run until March 23. The study debunks more than 20 different major accusations leveled by numerous different countries—accusing Israel of violating Palestinians’ religious freedom, damaging their health and practicing racism.

According to report researcher and writer Dina Rovner, legal adviser of UN Watch, the paper sets the record straight regarding distorted statements, including: “Israel hinders the Palestinian fight against COVID-19;” “Israel has occupied Palestinian territory for 70 years;” “Israel commits apartheid against the Palestinians;” “Israel damages Palestinian holy sites” and “Israel’s blockade of Gaza is illegal.”

“The truth is very different from what is being put on the record at the United Nations,” she told JNS. “When Israel is accused of hindering the Palestinian fight against COVID-19, it is actually helping and coordinating with the Palestinians. When Israel is accused of violating the rights of Syrians on the Golan, the opposite is the case—the Golan Syrians have more rights and freedoms than their counterparts in Syria, and are flourishing economically. Israel damages Palestinian holy sites? No. History shows that only under Israeli control are the holy sites of Jews, Muslims and Christians fully protected.”

Syria Set to be Elected to Top U.N. Human Rights Forum

Cited in The Times of Israel, “Syria set to be elected to top post in UN human rights forum,” Feb. 21, 2021:

Syria will be elected to the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization, a 24-nation body that aims to “decolonize” the US Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa, and other areas, according to the UN Watch NGO, which reported Syria’s election to the forum.

Quoted on i24 News, “UN set to elect Syria to top post in human rights forum,” Feb. 23:

“That the UN announced its intention to elect the Syrian regime to a senior UN post on the same day that an inquiry accused the regime of crimes against humanity is morally repulsive and logically absurd,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

“Putting Syria on top UN committees only helps the Assad regime portray itself a UN arbiter of human rights. It’s an insult to Syria’s millions of victims,” said Neuer. “Morally, [UN Secretary-General] Mr [Antonio] Guterres should do the right thing and at the very least condemn Syria’s candidacy.”

Quoted in Albawaba, “War Crimes! How Does The UN Exactly See Its Stand on Syria?” Feb. 24, 2021:

“That the UN announced its intention to elect the Syrian regime to a senior UN post on the same day that an inquiry accused the regime of crimes against humanity is morally repulsive and logically absurd,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of Geneva-based human rights organization, UN Watch.

“Putting Syria on top UN committees only helps the Assad regime portray itself a UN arbiter of human rights. It’s an insult to Syria’s millions of victims.”

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UN Watch in the News — June 2021

UN Watch was quoted in multiple media outlets during June 2021 on topics including: Geneva Summit gives a voice to human rights dissidents; Russian opposition