Avishai Sober

Unveiling the Double Standards: The United Nations Human Rights Council

In 2004, Natan Sharansky referred to the New Antisemitism as the 3D test- Demonization, Double Standards and Delegitimization. If we take Sharansky’s model and apply it to the United Nations Human Rights Council, a disturbing, antisemitic picture is painted.

Contrary to their normal habit of indifference, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) seems to take an extremely active stance when Israel can be blamed for something. The organization that claims responsibility “for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe” seems to be more focused on promoting their anti-Israel bias fueled by antisemitism.

If we compare Israel to all the other states in the world, it is clear the Israel is treated differently by the UNHRC. The most obvious place to start is the UNHRC Agenda item 7 which mandates a discussion on “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” As expected, this is the only standing item on the agenda that singles out a specific territory.

The other main area where the UNHRC’s anti-Israel bias cries out is their resolutions. If one with no prior knowledge of the human rights situation around the world were to examine these resolutions, they would be sure that Israel is a violent, authoritarian, and bloodthirsty regime. Why else would 105 out of 285 resolutions (36.8%) focus on them?

Now let’s compare the human rights situation over the past few years between several countries and see how the UNHRC has responded. For example, Syria has suffered a brutal civil war which has taken the lives of roughly 600,000 people, of which 41,000 were children and women, while displacing 13 million people. For these atrocities, the UNHRC condemned them a mere 43 times. Perhaps Syria was somehow missed by the international community, surely institutionalized antisemitism couldn’t exist in the United Nations. Well, let’s examine a different state. Since 2014, the civil war in Yemen has taken the lives of 377,000 people and internally displaced another 4,500,000 people. The UNHRC responded to these horrific numbers with 3 resolutions. That is not a typo, indeed they responded with only 3 resolutions.

Diving further into the numbers will reveal even more disturbing numbers, such as in the case of Ethiopia who during the Tigray war (2020-2022) has seen roughly 465,000 deaths and nearly 3 million more internally displaced people (IDP) yet awarding them with only two UNHRC condemnations. Sudan is another example, after counting the bodies of over 200,000 citizens, of which over 10,000 were killed since April 2023, and another 2.8 million IDP from the Darfur region, spawning over nearly the past 2 decades. The international response, as in the case of Ethiopia, was only 2 condemnations.

Now, it’s not to say that Israel is perfect and hasn’t made any mistakes. All Israel asks is to be measured in the same way other states are measured. Over the past 20 years there have been less than 20,000 deaths amongst Israelis and Palestinians, that means on average Israel has been condemned for every 190 deaths. With that ratio, Syria should have been condemned 3,158 times, Yemen should have been condemned 1,984 times and Sudan should have been condemned 1,052 times.

On the other hand, some noteworthy members of the UNHRC for their stellar human rights record include China, Cuba, Pakistan, Somalia, and Qatar, none of whom have ever been condemned by the council. Also, other non-member states such as Congo, Iraq and Türkiye have yet to be condemned even once.

Going back to Sharansky’s 3D test, Demonization, Double standards and Delegitimization, we can conclude that the UN is on a dangerous antisemitic path, with the UNHRC being just one example of it. The demonization exists in every UN discussion criticizing Israel and accusing us of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. The double standards cry out with every UN resolution sponsored by some of the world’s worst tyrants who blame Israel for bombing a school that was used by terrorists to fire rockets. All that’s left is the delegitimization, yet with the genocidal chants echoing from protests calling “from the river to the sea,” and with a U.S congresswoman supporting that same message, it seems that the final stage of Sharansky’s test is right around the corner.

About the Author
Avishai Sober is an M.A student for Counterterrorism & Homeland Security at Reichman University, and also is a part-time intern at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT). Avishai also has a B.A in Political Science and Middle Eastern studies from Ariel University.
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