Hillel Neuer
International human rights lawyer, writer & activist

New UN rights chief Prince Zeid criticizes Israel in opening speech

In his maiden speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, the new U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, has accused Israel of “excessive use of force” and other human rights violations.

The former Jordanian ambassador to the U.N. also criticized several other countries, but he made no mention of many of the world’s worst human rights violators, including Council members such as China, Cuba, Pakistan, Algeria, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Prince Zeid made only passing mention of Council member Russia, despite its naked aggression in Ukraine. He also made only fleeting mention of North Korea, despite its shocking atrocities.

Jordan, despite its poor human rights record, including its recent turning away of Syrian refugees of Palestinian descent, was nowhere mentioned in his speech.

For his full text, click here. Below is the new UN rights chief’s criticism of Israel:

Another example of the need to end persistent discrimination and impunity is the Israel-Palestine conflict, with the recurring violence and destruction evident in the repetition of crises in Gaza. The most recent outbreak of armed conflict has had a particularly devastating toll in death, suffering and destruction, compounding what was an already precarious situation due to the blockade imposed by Israel in 2007. As of last week, preliminary estimates are that 2,131 Palestinians had been killed during the latest crisis in Gaza, including 1,473 civilians, 501 of them children. 71 Israelis had also been killed, including 4 civilians.

Current and future generations of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have a right to live normal lives in dignity: without conflict, without a blockade, indeed without the wide range of daily human rights infringements that are generated by military occupation, illegal settlements, excessive use of force, home demolitions, and the Wall that continues to be constructed across the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The seven-year blockade must end, and there must be effective accountability for transgressions committed by all parties. On this point, I note that Israelis have a right to live free and secure from indiscriminate rocket fire.

About the Author
Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization in Geneva, Switzerland. An international lawyer, Neuer has been described by the Tribune de Genève as a human rights activist who is “feared and dreaded” by the world’s dictatorships. Israel's Ma’ariv newspaper ranked Neuer as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Jewish People in the World.” Hillel Neuer is a renowned speaker who has published widely, testified before the United Nations and the U.S. Congress, and appeared on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. On September 14, 2016, the City of Chicago adopted a resolution declaring “Hillel Neuer Day” in recognition of his work as “one of the world’s foremost human rights advocates.” In June 2018, McGill University awarded Neuer with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, citing his work as “an innovator” in “creating global platforms for courageous dissidents and champions of human rights from around the world,” and for being “a passionate advocate for human rights, fighting tirelessly against discrimination, torture, and injustice."
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