As Libya Is Suspended But Failure To Reform Persists, B’nai B’rith Delegation Raises Key Issues At U.N. Human Rights Council
B’nai B’rith International has sent its annual leadership delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, to address key sticking points facing the world body, including ending the anti-Israel permanent agenda item and the special rapporteur on Israel and pushing for the oft-delayed, full inclusion of the Jewish state in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG).
The council is now in the process of forwarding to the U.N. General Assembly long-awaited, but apparently highly inadequate, recommendations following "review" of its own performance.
“As the only international Jewish organization with a full-time, accredited office dedicated to U.N.-related issues, it is imperative that we continue to work to ensure Israel is removed as a permanent fixation of the council,” said B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick who led the delegation at the 16th session of the council.
The delegation met with senior officials in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as with ambassadors from more than 25 countries, many of whom attended B’nai B’rith's diplomatic reception at the Palais des Nations, the city headquarters of the world body, where the director-general of the U.N. Office at Geneva, Sergei Ordzhonikidze, spoke along with United States Ambassador Betty King and Israeli Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar.
B’nai B’rith is hopeful that the council’s unusually forthright actions against Libya point to a positive new trend and endorsed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent call for a special rapporteur on Iran. However, B’nai B’rith once again repudiated the Durban racism conference 10th anniversary commemoration planned for September and expressed dismay that Syria plans to be a candidate for council membership.
“It is necessary now, more than ever, that we help member states recognize the need for the council to end hypocrisy and politicization in its work,” Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We can no longer allow the council to spend unparalleled time playing on open biases against the Jewish state and dubbing it the world’s worst human rights violator.”
At the council, B'nai B'rith also renewed its opposition, particularly in light of recent attacks against Christians in the Middle East, to Muslim states' efforts to stigmatize free expression as "defamation of religion,” which protects communities of believers instead of individuals. The United Nations has defined these efforts as human rights violations.
The delegation included: Glick, Mariaschin, Azaria Acher, B’nai B’rith Geneva representative; Armand Azoulai, B’nai B’rith Geneva representative; Helene Briskman, director of B'nai B'rith United Kingdom's London Bureau of International Affairs; David Hachuel, B’nai B’rith Geneva representative; Jacques Jacubert, former president of B’nai B’rith France; Yves-Victor Kamami, senior vice president; Baruch Lascar, B’nai B’rith Geneva representative; David Matas, honorary counsel of B'nai Brith Canada; David Michaels, director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs; Klaus Netter, B’nai B’rith Geneva representative; Joelle Perelberg, member of the Board of Governors; Ada Sadoun of B’nai B’rith France; Irving Silver, vice chair of B'nai B'rith's Center for Human Rights and Public Policy; Reinold Simon, honorary life president of B'nai B'rith Europe; and Stephane Teicher, a B’nai B’rith representative to UNESCO.