B’nai B’rith International sent its annual leadership delegation to Geneva to address key issues facing the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), including the council’s continued obsessive focus on Israel, Iran’s appalling domestic human rights record and its repeated threats against Israel and the devastating fighting in Syria.
Sixteen B’nai B’rith International leaders and supporters led by President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin met with representatives from some 40 countries.
Recently, the UNHRC released a report that was yet another example of its anti-Israel bias. The council-ordered “fact-finding mission” report stated that Israel must withdraw from all settlements or Israelis could be tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court should “Palestine” sign on to the Rome treaty, as Palestinian leaders have repeatedly threatened to do. The panel also suggested that businesses cut ties to business interests in the settlements. The report is to be presented at the current session of the council and a follow-up resolution on the matter is expected later in the session.
“It’s this kind of bias that we’re here in Geneva to address,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “It’s completely unacceptable that time and time again this council has unfairly trained its eye on Israel, while ignoring many member states’ countless human rights abuses.”
The B’nai B’rith delegation also emphasized the negative effects of decisions and resolutions taken at the United Nations on the peace process.
“As long as U.N. bodies continue to pass biased resolutions against Israel, you can certainly bet that the Palestinians will prefer to internationalize its conflict with Israel instead of returning to negotiations without preconditions,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We’re here to make sure that the Human Rights Council members understand that the actions of the council only aid in the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to circumvent direct peace talks.”
In addition to Jacobs and Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith was represented by: Helene Briskman of London; Matthew Caplan of Washington, D.C.; Jay Feldman of Washington, D.C.; Michael Gellman of Washington, D.C.; Ralph Hofmann of Frankfurt, Germany; Jacques Jacubert of Paris; Yves Kamami of Paris; Charles Kaufman of Austin, Texas; David Matas of Winnipeg, Canada; David Michaels of New York; Joëlle Perelberg of Nice, France; Ada Sadoun of Grenoble, France; Gary Saltzman of Denver, Colo.; and Stéphane Teicher of Paris.
On March 13, B'nai B'rith International leadership held a reception at the U.N. headquarters in Geneva, hosting numerous ambassadors. Joshua Lincoln representing Director-General of the U.N. Office in Geneva Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, addressed the delegation and its guests, as did Peter Mulrean, deputy permanent representative of the United States to the U.N. Office in Geneva.
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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