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Will Biden’s United States be able to change the UN Human Rights Council? –

A couple of reforms are absolutely urgent if we want to give credibility to the UN body and put an end to its blatant discrimination

At Itzhak Levanon

Itzhak Levanon, former ambassador of Israel to Egypt, author of this article

One of the first decisions of the new administration of US President Joe Biden was to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Former President Donald Trump had left the organization stating that it was extremely biased towards Israel.

Personally, I believe that the decision to return to the Council is right and bodes well. It is worth trying to transform a troubled organization from the inside rather than letting our enemies do whatever they want. Israel has said on several occasions that the UN Human Rights Council is so biased and dishonest that we have no need to be in it. In practice it is true. But just as you don’t desert a military outpost even if it is considered of secondary importance, so you don’t leave an international organization that goes after you.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was created just over a decade ago on the ruins of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR). Over the course of a whole year of debates, in which I took part, the best mechanism for the new body was discussed. We had a lot of hope in creating a fair and just organization. Indeed, the new Council was found to be more efficient than the previous Commission. All countries, without exception, should have submitted to the scrutiny of the Council during two days of debate on the state of human rights in their respective countries and would have been called upon to implement its recommendations. Unfortunately, the new Council has also inherited some negative elements. One of these is the Commission’s bias, the special article against Israel: we failed to put an end to this blatant discrimination, to my utmost frustration.

The UN Human Rights Council

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By announcing its re-entry to the UN Human Rights Council, Washington expressed its intention to initiate changes in the functioning of the body: a commendable intention that must be encouraged. Only a superpower like the United States can lead such a profound reform process.

Here are two measures that, if adopted, will allow both the United States and Israel to coexist peacefully with the Human Rights Council. The first is to cancel that article 7 which only targets Israel (by requiring the Council to discuss anyway, in each session, the actual or alleged human rights violations by Israel and Israel only ed). Only then will Israel be equal to all other members of the Council and like everyone else will it have to submit itself fairly to the scrutiny of the Council.

The second measure is to change the process of electing members called to serve on the Council for three years. Today these elections are held on a regional basis. Instead, countries should be elected on their merits, on their human rights performance. This would put an end to the farce that criminal regimes like Syria, Iran, Cuba and the like sit with impunity and shame on the stage of the Human Rights Council.

Knowing the agonizing human rights violations in several countries, civil wars, coups d’├ętat, press persecution of opponents and NGOs, these reforms within the UN Human Rights Council stand out as an objective of absolute urgency.

(Da: Jerusalem Post, 22.2.21)

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