The world’s democracies collectively snubbed the UN Human Rights Council’s annual condemnation of Israel in Geneva on Monday, when none of their representatives attended the council’s presentation and debate on “Item 7” — a permanent agenda item focused on the “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”
As was the case last year, the seats of all the democratic nations represented on the council were empty for the duration of the discussion, sparking protests from Arab countries.
The United States has never attended an Item 7 debate since the council was established in 2006 as a successor to the Commission on Human Rights. In an address to the council on June 6, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley charged that “Item 7 is a scandalous provision that must be removed.”
Hillel Neuer — executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch NGO — told The Algemeiner that the non-attendance at Monday’s session signaled a “significant stand by the Western democracies against prejudice.”
Neuer added that he himself had taken part in the debate primarily to point out why the democratic countries were absent. “Hopefully, one day Item 7 will be removed,” he said.
In his speech before the council, Neuer observed that “the US, Canada, Australia, all European Union member states, Japan, and other established democracies have boycotted this debate.”
Neuer continued: “The democracies are absent to protest prejudice — because this is the only agenda item that singles out one specific state, the Jewish state, for differential and discriminatory treatment. Not Syria, Sudan or North Korea is treated this way.”
Nonetheless, the absence of these countries did not prevent routine denunciations of Israel, with serial human rights abusers like Syria, Lebanon and Venezuela attacking Israel’s human rights record and depicting it as the “greatest threat to peace in the Middle East.”