Hope for reason to prevail at the UNHRC as Australia takes its place

October 18, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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The Jewish community has welcomed the Australia’s election to Unite Nations Human Right Council.

Peter Wertheimer, executive director of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told J-Wire: “The UN has been widely criticised for allowing countries with bad  human rights records — including Pakistan, Qatar,  and Congo  — to win seats on the Human Rights Council, and pass judgment on western countries with far better records, especially Israel.  This situation makes a hollow mockery of the noble purposes for which the Council was established, and demonstrates that none of the problems that led to the abolition of its predecessor body, the UN Commission on Human Rights, in 2006 have been addressed.

From the ECAJ’s meetings with the Foreign Minister’s Chief of Staff in Canberra in August, we are confident that the government understands that these criticisms are justified, and that Australia will try to use its presence on the Council to reverse this pattern, and to make the Council fulfil its intended purpose. However, the pervasive anti-western culture of the UN does not leave much room for optimism on this score.”


The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council has congratulated Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Australia’s election to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In a letter to Foreign Minister Bishop, AIJAC’s National Chairman Mark Leibler and Executive Director Colin Rubenstein told her they “look forward, as Australians, to taking pride in Australia’s promotion of democratic ideals, women’s rights, minority and religious rights, and the rights of all people to live peacefully and equally, without threats or persecution.”

Australia’s voice, they wrote, would be especially needed given the preponderance of “nations represented on the UNHRC who themselves have highly questionable human rights records, in addition to nations that, contrary to the spirit of its founding, use the Council as a political tool.”

Leibler and Rubenstein specifically called attention to “the Council’s unbalanced historical focus in demonizing Israel at the expense of addressing far more serious and sinister issues around the world”.

They added, “by laying all the blame at Israel’s feet while ignoring Palestinian intransigence, incitement and rejectionism, the UNHRC has thus far aided in perpetuating the conflict rather than contributing to positive outcomes.”

Citing the Foreign Minister’s contention that Australia would be better equipped to effect change from within the Council than without, AIJAC’s leaders said they look forward to Australia exerting its positive influence towards reforming
the troubled UN organ.

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