B'nai B'rith International (BBI) is again participating at the United Nations Human Rights Council, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Council is currently in its seventh session, which began March 3, 2008.
As the only international Jewish organization with a full-time office working on U.N. issues, BBI has Special Consultative Status as a non-governmental organization with the Economic and Social Council of the U.N. BBI seeks to play a key role in U.N. affairs and civil society by providing information and viewpoints to help member states make determinations on issues related to Israel, the protection of Jews worldwide, and the protection and promotion of universal human rights.
BBI is concerned that unfortunately like its predecessor the Council continues to be politicized, rather than effectively promote and protect human rights. One key issue is the credibility of the Council's membership and its ability to apply equitable human rights standards to all countries in good faith. If the Human Rights Council is going to embark on a lasting change in the U.N.'s human rights system, that change must be systemic.
Our primary concern is the treatment of Israel. The old Commission on Human Rights institutionalized bias against Israel through multiple resolutions dubbing it the worst human rights violator. Since its first session in June, 2006, the Human Rights Council has made Israel out to be the only human rights violator.
Four of the six special sessions have been called against Israel (the other two were on Darfur and Burma). A number of decisions and condemning alleged violations by Israel in a one-sided manner has now become a permanent fixture on the Council's agenda.
Furthermore, while Israel is a member of the WEOG (Western European and Others Group) in New York, Israel cannot participate in Western group consultations in Geneva. Without universal WEOG status, Israel is barred from participation in several meetings at the U.N. in Geneva. This open bias subjects Israel to a dependency on invitations to attend meetings and limits its ability to defend itself and voice opinions in public forums.
Our annual delegation to the Council consists of an international team of leaders. It is led by B'nai B'rith International President Moishe Smith, and co-organized by the BBI permanent office in Geneva and BBI's office of U.N. Affairs in New York. Read more about BBI and the U.N.
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