UNHRC and Israel
Not showing up was hardly ideal, but better this than more spectacles of the sort staged invariably by the UNHRC.
UNHRC headquarters in Geneva Photo: REUTERS
UNHRC and Israel Singled out routinely as the UN Human Rights Council’s all-time
favorite scapegoat, Israel has finally had enough and has refused to show up for
its Universal Periodic Review last Tuesday. To dodge a confrontation, the
council postponed Israel’s UPR to November.
This review is conducted to
evaluate human rights conditions in each of the 193 UN member-states. In
Israel’s case, however, any UNHRC hearing is likely to descend into a kangaroo
court, where some of the worst repressive regimes pass judgment on a sterling
democracy and where the damning verdict had been composed long before any
proceedings had begun.
Last week it was Israel’s turn again to have its
record examined by UNHRC adjudicators. But Israel didn’t facilitate that
particular show by participating. Thus it became the first state to boycott the
UPR procedure, in what could well constitute a precedent for other countries
down the line.
Thereby Israel avoided yet another round of mock
investigations and appraisals (such as those that culminated in the Goldstone
Report and the scathing condemnation of Israel for the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid),
where the principles of law and of elementary impartiality are perverted and
where the ruling is a foregone conclusion well in advance of the sham
But it was not the UPR process that triggered Israel’s boycott.
Israel in effect severed its working connections with the council last March,
after the UNHRC had decided to inspect supposed human rights violations
inflicted on Palestinians by Israeli settlement activity.
verdict was already implied in the probe’s terms of reference.
hardly surprising. The council is noxiously anti- Israel. The special rapporteur
on the question of Palestine to the UNHRC until 2008, John Dugard, described his
mandate as scrutinizing Israeli human rights infractions and not those of the
Palestinians. His successor Richard Falk likened Israel’s treatment of
Palestinians to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.
has been censured by the UNHRC more than any state and the council has made sure
that all its sessions are compelled to focus disproportionate attention on
Israel. This has been guaranteed by the adoption of Agenda Item 7 that turns
Israel into a permanent subject of debate. No other country has an obligatory
agenda item reserved for it.
Formally, UNHRC was born only in 2006, but
in actual fact it started out as the much-discredited UN Human Rights
Commission. Then-UN secretary-general Kofi Annan took the extraordinary step of
abolishing it because of unabashed politicization that mostly manifested itself
in its fixated demonization of Israel – slated for vilification on any occasion
and under any pretext.
The unlamented commission was replaced by the
council amid promises for sincere introspection, contrition and most of all
cleaning up of the commission’s avowedly shameful record. Nonetheless, the
commission’s preposterous patterns reasserted themselves in full from the
get-go. The council consistently discerns nothing more urgent to occupy itself
with than Israel’s socalled human rights offenses.
The council is the
commission’s carbon copy, with one exception. The commission held a single
The council treats us to multiple annual
The majority of its 47 seats are held by Third World
nations, which not only guarantees massive anti-Israel bias but makes mockery of
human rights. Thus, before its upheaval, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya was among the
UNHRC’s movers and shakers.
The Obama administration pointedly reversed
an earlier Bush administration decision not to seek a seat on the council due to
its lack of credibility, obsessive preoccupation with Israel, and failure to
confront the world’s real serial rights-abusers.
Admitting that the
council betrays “strong bias against Israel,” US Ambassador to the UNHRC Eileen
Chamberlain Donahoe nevertheless argued that by staying away Israel is forgoing
the opportunity to “present its own narrative.”
The trouble, though, is
that nobody in the UNHRC is listening.
Not showing up was hardly ideal,
but better this than more spectacles of the sort staged invariably by the UNHRC.
For the same cogent reasons Israel is also likely will not play along with a brand
new “investigation” into its alleged deployment of drones against Palestinian