UN Watch in the News

UN Watch in the News — January 2023

UN Watch was quoted in multiple media outlets during January 2023 on topics including repressive regimes hijacking the U.N. Human Rights Council, antisemitism and anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, and UNRWA incitement.

Quoted in CNS News, “Ahead of UN Human Rights Review, Pakistan Tightens Its Already Draconian Blasphemy Laws,” January 30, 2023:

Pakistan will on Monday undergo a mandatory U.N. Human Rights Council review of its human rights record, two weeks after lawmakers passed legislation to toughen what are already arguably the world’s harshest blasphemy laws.

“While the session is meant to scrutinize governments and thereby strengthen the basic rights and freedoms of their citizens, most of the UNHRC members who take the floor are expected instead to praise Pakistan for its alleged achievements,” the Geneva-based NGO U.N. Watch predicted ahead of the UPR.

U.N. Watch said it had documented 10 “false claims” in the Pakistani government’s formal submission to the HRC as part of its review.

One of them deals with the blasphemy laws situation. Islamabad says in its submission to the council that it is “committed to curb the misuse of blasphemy laws,” and has put in place “safeguards,” including imprisonment for those convicted of filing false blasphemy charges.

U.N. Watch alleged that the reality was different.

“The Pakistani NGO Center for Social Justice reported that in 2021 at least 84 people were accused of blasphemy in Pakistan and three people were extrajudicially killed,” it said. “In October 2022, two people were killed within days of each other for blasphemy. Earlier in the year, a Pakistani court sentenced a woman to death for sharing images on WhatsApp that were considered insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.”

Quoted in Firstpost, “Flights of Falsity: Ahead of crucial UN meet on human rights, Pakistan takes global body for a ride,” January 27, 2023:

Pakistan’s lies and false claims have been exposed before the United Nations ahead of the global body’s mandatory review of the country’s human rights record on January 30, Monday.

A report by a human rights group has exposed at least 10 false claims in Pakistan’s submission to the UN Human Rights Council.

“Pakistan’s submission to the UN about its human rights record is filled with lies. Our report documents 10 false claims, and we call on the UN Human Rights Council on Monday to hold the Pakistani regime’s representatives to account for trying to cover up gross and systematic human rights violations,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights organization.

Neuer further said that the UN must urge Pakistan’s regime “to put an end to torture, enforced disappearances, child labor, and violence against women, and to stop crushing independent media, censoring Facebook and Twitter, persecuting Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Shia, and Ahmadis, hosting terrorist groups, and backing China’s persecution of Muslim Uighurs.”

Quoted in CNS News, “UN Human Rights Council in 2023: ‘Like Naming Al Capone and His Gang to Fight Organized Crime,’” January 4, 2023:

Seventeen years after it was created as the United Nations’ foremost human rights body, the Human Rights Council begins 2023 with its smallest contingent yet of free democracies, prompting a leading U.N. watchdog to liken the situation to “naming Al Capone and his gang to fight organized crime.”

“There is a serious credibility gap,” U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said Tuesday. “When 70 percent of the members of the U.N. Human Rights Council are either full-on tyrannies, like China and Cuba, that are police states; authoritarian regimes like Qatar and Pakistan, that mistreat women and migrants, it’s very hard for the world to take it seriously.”

Neuer told Israel’s ILTV News network that a membership including such countries also raised questions about how effectively the council can carry out those mandates that are positive – such as the decision last November to establish a fact-finding mission into the Iranian regime’s abuses against protesting citizens.

Neuer, whose NGO was founded in 1993 and has been monitoring the HRC since the council’s creation in 2006, said he believed the world needs a credible Human Rights Council, “to defend millions of victims, in places like Iran, Syria, North Korea, who are suffering arbitrary executions, torture, imprisonment, rape. They need to be defended.”

But when U.N. member states elect regimes like China, Cuba, and Pakistan onto the world body’s highest human rights agency, he said, “that’s like naming Al Capone and his gang to fight organized crime.”

Asked about the disproportionate number of resolutions condemning Israel, Neuer attributed it in part to the activist role played by Islamic states.

“These resolutions are introduced by Arab and Islamic states, historically to deflect attention from their own records,” he said.

Neuer said the U.N.’s “obsession” with Israel is not only bad for prospects for peace – in that it polarizes the Israeli and Arab sides – but is also “bad for the world.”

“All this time spent on demonizing Israel is time not spent on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, in Cuba, in Pakistan,” he said. “That’s part of the strategy of these countries.”

Quoted in The Algemeiner, “UNRWA Leads to a Path of Violence for Israel, Not Peace,” January 4, 2023:

The advocacy group UN Watch documented how teachers in UNRWA schools express support for terrorism and Palestinian terrorist groups, and indoctrinate students to violence. On July 15, 2022, Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch, tweeted that his organization has “easily identified 120 UNRWA teachers, school principals and other employees who praise Hitler, glorify terrorist attacks and spread anti-Semitism.” UN Watch decried the “exploitation of children as child soldiers” as a “form of child abuse and a violation of international law.”

Mentioned in The Christian Post, “UN accused of ‘Palestinian hypocrisy’ as resolution calls for ICJ opinion on Israel,” January 4, 2023:

Proponents of Israel condemned the United Nations General Assembly for approving a resolution accusing the country of illegally occupying Palestinian territories, a move the Israeli prime minister called a “despicable decision.”

According to U.N. Watch, a pro-Israel watchdog group, the General Assembly approved 15 resolutions against Israel last year, compared to 13 resolutions criticizing other countries. Russia was at the center of six resolutions for invading Ukraine, while North Korea, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria, Iran and the U.S. were hit with one resolution each.

Featured in The Times of Israel, “UN condemned Israel more than all other countries combined in 2022,” January 3, 2023:

The United Nations General Assembly passed more resolutions critical of Israel than against all other nations combined in 2022, contributing to what observers call an ongoing lopsided focus on the Jewish state at the world body.

The General Assembly approved 15 anti-Israel resolutions last year, versus 13 resolutions criticizing other countries, according to a tally by the pro-Israel monitoring group UN Watch.

Since 2015, the General Assembly has adopted 140 resolutions criticizing Israel, mainly over its treatment of the Palestinians, its relationships with neighboring countries and other alleged wrongdoings. Over the same period, it has passed 68 resolutions against all other countries, UN Watch said.

Quoted in The Times of Israel, “70% of UN rights council members are non-democracies, says watchdog,” January 7, 2023:

The top United Nations human rights body started the year with a majority of its members defined as non-democratic countries and many accused of severe rights violations, drawing ire from the pro-Israel NGO UN Watch.

“When the world elects regimes like China, Cuba, Pakistan, to its highest human rights body, that’s like naming Al Capone and his gang to fight organized crime. It’s a betrayal,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in an interview with ILTV on Thursday.

When such states are elected to the panel, “it’s very hard for the world to take it seriously, and it raises the question, how can they even implement mandates that are positive, like the inquiry created on Iran,” Neuer added, referencing a recently formed probe into unrest in the Islamic Republic sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini.

Neuer noted in a tweet on Sunday that countries with questionable human rights records such as Cuba, Qatar, China, Sudan, Eritrea, Algeria, Somalia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Bangladesh are members of the council.

Neuer told ILTV in the interview on Thursday that it was mainly oil-rich Arab and Islamic States that initiate measures against Israel, “to deflect attention from their own records.”

Voting against Israel in the body “has become the default, and Israel needs to work hard to change it. It’s very much an uphill battle,” he said.

UN Watch was founded in 1993 and, according to its webpage, aims to combat “racism, antisemitism and anti-Israeli prejudice at the UN, taking the offensive against dictatorships and double standards.”

It is headquartered in Geneva and is a UN-accredited NGO, enabling it to participate in some debates and panels at the global body, where it has campaigned against human rights abuses around the world.

Quoted in Jewish News Syndicate, “Anti-Israel bias continues unabated in UN agencies,” January 26, 2023:

When Francesca Albanese was nominated to be the next United Nations special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories last February, critics feared her well-established anti-Israel bias would taint her work.

“Francesca Albanese completely fails even the minimal standards of impartiality and objectivity,” said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, “because this is an individual who has quite simply devoted her life to militant advocacy against Israel, as even a fleeting glance at her social media and public statements reveals. She’s the very opposite of impartial.”

Mentioned in The Jerusalem Post, “Jenin clashes bring spotlight back on illegal weapons in West Bank,” January 26, 2023:

Last week recent clashes with Palestinians in Jenin have shed light on the illegal trade and possession of weapons that continues to fuel violence in the West Bank.


UN Watch