What is the United Nations and why is it so anti-Israel?
The United Nations was established in 1945, at the end of World War II, for the express purpose of preventing the outbreak of war and averting another world war. The UN has a mandate to preserve and enhance human freedom and tolerance around the world and is best described as a “world parliament”, where every member country has an equal vote.
By 1949 the UN consisted of 58 member countries and displayed a clear democratic and pro-Western orientation. It was at this time that the global body recognised the newly established Jewish state of Israel and agreed the borders between Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Fast forward to today, however, and the United Nations has grown to 193 member countries. These countries represent a diverse mix of governments, cultures and ideologies. More than half of these countries are not free, many are dictatorships, some are Islamic and almost all the countries that fall into these categories are anti-Israel.
This is the reason why Israel is repeatedly singled out at the United Nations is because more countries in the UN hold an anti-Israel position than a pro-Israel one. No matter how large, small, powerful, weak, free or restrictive a country is, each one has an equal vote.
The only body where countries have a greater say is at the UN Security Council (UNSC) where the five permanent members of the council (Russia, USA, UK, France and China) have “power of veto”, meaning they can cancel out a vote if they disagree with it. These countries have this privilege mainly because they have the largest arsenals of nuclear weapons.
How bad is the anti-Israel bias at the United Nations?
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
This is the main body of the UN where every nation votes equally on every issue. From 2012 to 2015, the UNGA adopted 97 resolutions criticising individual countries; 83 of which were against Israel (86%). Last year the UNGA passed 20 of the 26 country specific resolution against Israel (77%). To put that in perspective, there were 20 resolutions against Israel in 2016 and 6 resolutions for the rest of the world combined.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
The UNHRC is comprised of 47 UN member states. These countries are chosen by secret ballot and serve on the Council for a three year term. All UNHRC meetings feature 10 items. Agenda Item 7 is permanent and mandates the debate of alleged Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians. No other nation has a standing agenda item such as this. All other human rights abuses around the globe are dealt with under Agenda Item 4. From its creation in June 2006 through to June 2016, the UNHRC adopted 135 resolutions criticising specific countries; 68 out of those 135 have been against Israel (slightly more than 50%).
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
The UNSC is relatively free from Israel condemnation. This is due to the United States having “power of veto” in the council and have vetoed many anti-Israel resolutions throughout the years. Some have been allowed to pass with the most recent being UNSC Resolution 2334 in December last year, which was seen as a stab in the back by the Obama administration against Israel.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
Each year UNESCO adopts around 10 resolutions criticising only Israel. UNESCO does not criticise any other UN member state in a country-specific resolution. This means 100% of all country specific resolutions are against Israel. There is only one exception to this rule; in 2013, under pressure from campaign groups, UNESCO adopted one resolution against Syria.
The United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO)
For one week every year, the UN World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, meets to formulate global health policy where resolutions are adopted to address global health issues. There is one exception, the annual resolution entitled “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem and in the occupied Syrian Golan”. This resolution singles out Israel for condemnation. No other country is condemned by the World Health Organisation other than Israel.