'UNHRC endorsed anti-Semitic charter'

UN Watch: Arbour must clarify support of document "equating Zionism with racism, urges elimination."

louise arbour 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
louise arbour 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
UN Watch has urged UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to clarify a recent endorsement of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, which it said "contains several provisions that promote classically anti-Semitic themes." In a letter issued Monday, the organization pointed to several phrases in the charter, such as "rejecting all forms of racism and Zionism, which constitute a violation of human rights and a threat to international peace and security," as well as "all forms of racism, Zionism and foreign occupation and domination constitute an impediment to human dignity... all such practices must be condemned and efforts must be deployed for their elimination." The Arab Charter on Human Rights is intended to serve as a basis for the principles of freedom by which Arab nations must abide. The charter protects the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights of the people of those nations. The Arab League initially adopted the charter in 1994, after which the document underwent several changes, but it never came into force as it was not ratified by the required number of seven member states. However, earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates became the seventh nation to approve it after Jordan, Bahrain, Algeria, Syria, Libya and the Palestinian Authority. On January 24, Arbour released a statement in which she welcomed the ratification, which would bring the charter into effect, saying it was "an important step forward" in strengthening the enjoyment of human rights in the Arab world. "The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is committed and stands ready to support the [states party] to the Charter in ensuring that core values of human rights are upheld," Arbour said. UN Watch said that "Zionism is the movement for Jewish self-determination and asserts the inherent and internationally-acknowledged right of Israel to exist." "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. "Even if the Arab Charter may contain other, constructive provisions, nothing can justify any endorsement of a text with such hateful language," the letter stated. "We trust that Ms. Arbour was not aware of [the charter's contents], but this must be made clear, and the responsible person in her office must be held fully accountable," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based monitoring organization.