'Anti-Zionist' Arab charter inconsistent with UN norms'

Commissioner Arbour had previously praised ratification of Arab Charter on Human Rights as a 'step forward.'

louise arbour 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
louise arbour 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour expressed concern on Wednesday over the "incompatibility of some of the provisions" of the Arab Charter on Human Rights "with international norms and standards." On January 24, Arbour had welcomed the charter's ratification, saying it was "an important step forward" in strengthening the enjoyment of human rights in the Arab world. On Wednesday, Arbour's office issued a statement citing the "incompatibility of some of [the charter's] provisions with international norms and standards," including "the approach to death penalty for children and the rights of women and non-citizens." The office also said that the charter, "to the extent that it equates Zionism with racism... the Arab Charter is not in conformity with General Assembly Resolution 46/86, which rejects that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination. OHCHR does not endorse these inconsistencies." Earlier this week, UN Watch sent Arbour a letter citing "blatantly anti-Semitic statements contained in that charter." As an example, UN Watch quoted from the Arab charter's preamble, which rejects "all forms of racism and Zionism, which constitute a violation of human rights and a threat to international peace and security." According to Article 2 of the charter, "All forms of racism, Zionism and foreign occupation and domination constitute an impediment to human dignity and a major barrier to the exercise of the fundamental rights of peoples; all such practices must be condemned and efforts must be deployed for their elimination." A text that "equates Zionism with racism, describes it as a threat to world peace, as an enemy of human rights and human dignity, and then urges its elimination, is blatantly anti-Semitic," UN Watch said. The paragraph in the preamble equating Zionism with racism is displayed on the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' Web site, under documents "aimed at promoting and consolidating democracy."