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The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.
Agenda items 64 and 75 ( continued)
Report of the Human Rights Council (A/64/53)
The President ( spoke in Arabic ): ...
I now give the floor to the representative of Belgium, who is also the President of the Human Rights Council.
Mr. van Meeuwen (Belgium): It is an honour and privilege to present the report of the Human Rights Council (A/64/53) to the General Assembly, and to come before the Assembly this morning to apprise Members of its activities, in accordance with resolution 60/251.
In accordance with its mandate, the Council has been seized of events that have occurred in certain parts of the world and which constitute serious violations of human rights, thus requiring an urgent response. The Council devoted its eighth special session to the situation of human rights in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; its ninth special session to the grave violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the recent Israeli military aggression in the occupied Gaza Strip; its tenth to the impact of the world economic and financial crisis on the universal realization and effective enjoyment of human rights; and its eleventh special session to the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. The reports of the Council for these special sessions (A/HRC/S-8/2, A/HRC/S-9/2, A/HRC/S-10/2 and A/HRC/S-11/2) are also before us.
Allow me briefly to emphasize that the work of the Council at its previous sessions — and the reports on those sessions are before the Assembly — was continued during the Council’s twelfth session, which was held from 14 September to 2 October, and during the twelfth special session of the Council, held on 15 and 16 October, which focused on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. I will not mention anything further about these two sessions, since they are to be discussed later on by the Assembly.
Mr. Abdelaziz (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
We should work in parallel within the United Nations system to strengthen early warning capabilities through reliance on authenticated and non-politicized information, and strengthen cooperation by States with fact-finding missions dispatched by the Council to investigate gross violations of human rights, particularly in the case of peoples under foreign occupation and in conflict situations. The international community’s quest for universal respect for human and peoples’ rights will remain unattainable unless we completely leave behind selectivity, politicization and double standards when dealing with human and peoples’ rights, starting with the inalienable right to self-determination.
In this context, the Council must remain engaged in order to ensure respect for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel’s full adherence to its international obligations, including its commitment to full cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 and the fact-finding missions established by the Council to investigate gross violations of human rights. That includes permitting the requested field visits — the most recent of which was the fact-finding mission led by Justice Goldstone to investigate the tragic events that took place in Gaza. In that regard, Egypt, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, supported the Council’s recommendation that the General Assembly consider the report of the fact-finding mission.
Ms. Shalev (Israel): ...
The Human Rights Council, according to its own founding documents, must base its work on the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner. Instead of upholding those values, however, the Council has demonstrated an obsessive preoccupation with Israel during the three and a half years of its work.
Israel is the only country in the world that is singled out in a discriminatory manner by the Council’s agenda. Half of the Council’s special sessions have been held to condemn Israel. The Council has adopted more resolutions and decisions against Israel than on all other United Nations Member States put together. While the Council has reviewed and revised the mandate of nearly every special procedure, it refuses to review its grossly one-sided mandate concerning our region. And the Council continues to dispatch so-called fact-finding missions that are mandated to denounce every Israeli action, irrespective of the facts on the ground and the ongoing terrorism facing Israel on a daily basis.
Is this the work of a Human Rights Council that is impartial? Is this the work of a Council that is objective? Unlike some members of the Human Rights Council, Israel is a democracy that respects fundamental freedoms, protects a vibrant press and possesses an independent judiciary. Nevertheless, it is repeatedly condemned by the Council. These repeated unjustified condemnations do not help to protect human rights.
Around the world, true victims of the most severe violations of their most basic rights cry out for their plight to be heard and for their suffering to be redressed by the international community. But the Council is silent. As innocent Israeli men, women and children suffer relentless suicide terrorism and terrorist attacks, the Council chooses to say nothing. Is this the work of a Human Rights Council that reflects universality? The work of the Council is neither constructive nor fair nor impartial.
The report before us today reminds us all that the Human Rights Council is increasingly manipulated and exploited by some of its members and their obsession with demonizing Israel and demeaning its democratic nature.
In 2005, Kofi Annan acknowledged that a credibility deficit existed within United Nations human rights institutions. Yet today, that deficit is not a relic of the past; it is a fixture of the present. The longer it takes to rectify this injustice, the greater the damage will be to the integrity and legitimacy of the Council and the wider United Nations system.
The meeting rose at 1.05 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room U-506. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.