A View from Israel: Dismantle the UNHRC (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By ISRAEL KASNETT 03/23/12)
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Israel has a problem and it’s called the United Nations.
The UN, particularly the Human Rights Council, the successor to the
failed UN Commission on Human Rights, is notorious today for its anti-
This past week alone, the UN has come under scrutiny for adding fuel
to the proverbial Middle East fire.
On Monday, the US slammed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for
its biased treatment of Israel.
On the same day, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blasted the
council for facilitating an event featuring a Hamas politician.
Ismail al-Ashqar, a Hamas parliamentarian from Gaza, spoke at an NGO
event in the Geneva building.
Last week, Kuhlood Badawi, a field officer for the Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, posted a photo on Twitter
leading followers to believe that a dead child in the photo was
killed by recent Israeli missile fire when, in fact, the child had
been killed in a car accident unrelated to Israel in 2006.
Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor expressed outrage at Badawi’s conduct
and called for her dismissal, but so far the UN has shown no sign
that it will fire her.
Notably, and to the UN’s credit, a recent UN report on Palestinian
state-building did acknowledge that the problems the Palestinians are
having managing their budget “may undermine its track record as a
system that meets the requirements of a well-functioning state.” The
report also acknowledged that the current divide between Hamas and
Fatah contributes to the failure of state-building efforts.
Unfortunately, this type of criticism, which does not fault Israel
for Palestinian problems, is truly rare. The fact that it is an
exception to the usual anti-Israel chorus demonstrates that the UN
has lost legitimacy.
THE PROBLEM with the UN today is that it is not fulfilling the
objectives it was originally created for. It is clear that the
intention over the years of an intergovernmental organization was to
promote peace in an unbiased fashion – not to unilaterally create
states. The forerunner of the League of Nations, the Inter-
Parliamentary Union, was formed by peace activists in 1889. Its aims
were to encourage governments to solve international disputes by
The League of Nations was founded as a result of the Paris Peace
Conference that ended World War I. It was the first permanent
international organization whose principal mission was to maintain
world peace. Its primary goals, as stated in its covenant, included
preventing war through collective security and disarmament, and
settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration.
The League of Nations lacked an armed force of its own and depended
on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, which they were
unwilling to do. Its two most important members, Britain and France,
were reluctant to use sanctions and even more reluctant to resort to
military action. Immediately after the First World War, pacifism
became a strong force among both the people and the governments of
the two countries and the league’s resolutions were deemed irrelevant.
The UN was founded in 1945 after the Second World War when it became
clear that the League of Nations had failed in its objective to
prevent war. The aim was to maintain international peace and
security, develop friendly relations among nations and promote social
progress, better living standards and human rights.
The Tehran Conference, a strategy meeting held between Joseph Stalin,
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in 1943 at the Soviet
Embassy in Tehran, was the first of the World War II conferences held
between all of the “Big Three” Allied leaders and likely acted as a
seed from which the UN would grow.
Today, the UN has placed the Arab-Israeli conflict at the top of its
agenda and blatantly ignores human rights abuses around the world.
ON TUESDAY, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay wrote
an op-ed in this paper in which she made references to “occupied
Palestinian territory” and “Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”
The question is, if Palestine doesn’t yet exist, how is Israel
occupying it? Clearly, Pillay and her colleagues at the UN have a pro-
Palestinian agenda. They seek not to fulfill the council’s mandate
but rather to create a Palestinian state.
The problem is, since when is it the UN’s responsibility to ensure
that any group of people ends up with a state of their own? The
mandate of the UNHRC includes “preventing human rights violations,
securing respect for all human rights, promoting international
cooperation to protect human rights, coordinating related activities
throughout the United Nations, and strengthening and streamlining the
United Nations system in the field of human rights.”
None of this calls for the creation of a Palestinian state.
The UN has long overstepped the red line and has demonstrated its
total partiality when dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The UNHRC must be disbanded. There is no place in the 21st century
for those who drive a wedge between parties and favor one side while
remaining largely indifferent to the concerns of the other. There is
no excuse for the public to empower those who seek to instigate
discord and incite violence.
The council created to address human rights does nothing to further
As Netanyahu said in his speech Monday, “I have one thing to say to
the UN Human Rights Council: What do you have to do with human
rights? You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
It is unrealistic to believe that the UN itself could be disbanded or
even reformed, at least at this point, but it is not far-fetched to
call for the disbandment of the UNHRC. It has destroyed its own
integrity and should therefore cease functioning. Perhaps its
successor would truly be concerned with human rights abuses and not
the denigration of Israel. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/23/12)
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