GENEVA, Dec. 1 – After decades of being excluded from all of the UN Human Rights Council’s regional groups in Geneva, Israel will be formally invited to join the Western group on Monday.
This is a rare and historic victory for the cause of equality at the United Nations, a memorable milestone moment, and an important step forward in the long struggle against institutionalized injustice at the world body.
Israel is to be saluted on its special diplomatic achievement.
Special recognition must go to Canada, the UK, France, Germany and the US for playing a key role in ending an egregious form of bias within the existing pattern and practice of anti-Israel prejudice at the UN.
For two decades UN Watch fought publicly and privately to overturn the blatantly discriminatory practice whereby the Jewish state was segregated — in direct violation of the UN Charter’s equality guarantee — into a category of its own, the only nation excluded from a regional group. That is why it so gratifying to see this victory today. Given all of the obstacles, one might even call it a Hannukah miracle.
Contrary to several news reports, however, admission to WEOG in Geneva is unrelated to membership on the 47-nation council. Israel remains an observer state just like 145 other nations in Geneva, all of whom are entitled to participate in the council’s proceedings but not to vote on resolutions.
And regrettably this advance will not detract from the Arab states’ continued ability to target Israel in resolutions, urgent sessions and a special agenda item.
Rather, WEOG admission will allow Israel to participate together with all 192 other UN member states in receiving regular briefings, and to have its small say in the selection of council investigators, known as special rapporteurs.
More than anything, what regional group admission means for Israel is a sign of equal treatment — the removal of a symbol of bigotry and of an ugly stain upon the reputation of the UN.