Hillel Neuer
International human rights lawyer, writer & activist

UNHRC: Australian MP Blasts Silence on Syria Massacre & Distorted Focus on Israel

Testimony before the UN Human Rights Council by the Hon. Michael Danby, MP from Australia, September 26, 2016.

Thank you, Mr. President.

My name is Michael Danby, member of the Australian Parliament. I have the honour to take the floor today on behalf of United Nations Watch.

Australia has announced its candidacy next year to join this Human Rights Council. I support this bid, in the firm belief that Australia can contribute to the global protection of human rights—and to this Council’s founding promise, of renouncing the bias, selectivity and politicization of its discredited predecessor.

Australians have a historic connection to the United Nations and its human rights system. After World War II, Australian Foreign Minister Dr. H. V. Evatt played a key role in establishing the UN. As President of the General Assembly in 1948, he helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose core guarantee, reaffirmed by the Vienna Declaration, is the right to life.

 Sadly, however, this is being violated. The most glaring example is the massacre of innocent civilians in Syria. As we assemble, over the past few days the world has witnessed the unprecedented escalation of the murder and maiming of hundreds of men, women and children in Aleppo.

When a UN-backed humanitarian convoy—bringing life-saving aid to hundreds of thousands in that besieged city—was deliberately bombed last week by waves of airstrikes, this Council ought to have convened an urgent debate—and still should.

Mr. President, we ask: As the world watches hospitals and first responders being deliberately bombed, and running water cut off for an entire city, why is this Council silent?

Is it because this Council has instead focused on condemning the democratic country of Israel—under a special agenda item to which no other country is subject—in debates held both last Friday and today?

Are the perpetrators of this mass murder—Syria’s Assad regime, Iran, and their backer Russia—granted impunity because Russia is an elected member of this Council, now seeking re-election?

I thank you, Mr. President.

Michael Danby and Hillel Neuer
Michael Danby and Hillel Neuer
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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