Dear friends,

We are glad to inform you that after our pleasant experience with the Italian blog, the IIMA Human Rights Office has decided to open a new blog in English.

On this blog, you may follow our main activities with the United Nations and its mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as news from the UN bodies and IIMA offices in different countries related to the right to education.

Do you want to collaborate with us? You can apply for an internship at the IIMA Human Rights Office. Click here!

Have a great time reading!


WELCOME BACK, ISRAEL! Israel returns to the HRC, but not without reservations.

On 14th May 2012, Israel decided to suspend its relations with the Human Rights Council (HRC), becoming one of the most controversial countries at the United Nations in Geneva. Absent during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 29th January 2013, the meeting was postposed to 29th October 2013. Israel has been the first country to do this. As a result, the international community feared for the future and legitimacy of UPR process.

Following negotiations with the President of the HRC and international pressure from Member States, two days before the agreed date, Israel government confirmed its participation and just a day before the meeting, the national report was submitted. This unusual attitude was greatly criticized during the UPR session.

In front of a full room, H.E. Mr. Eviatar Manor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations at Geneva, started by declaring that Israel decided to suspend its relations because of discrimination against Israel within the HRC. One example cited was the HRC’s Agenda Item 7, which only discusses the situation of Human Rights on Israel. According to Mr. Manor’s words, “It was not an easy decision” and Israel could not support more unfair treatment. He recognized that Israel is not a perfect country, as the rest of the countries, but they are trying to improve human rights in the Middle East. H.E. Mr. Shai Nitzan, Deputy Attorney General Ministry of Justice of Israel, highlighted the existing collaboration between the government and NGOs in Israel to combat terrorism and the importance of Israel’s democratic government.

From the 73 speakers who took the floor, most of them were worried about the prolonged absence of Israel from the HRC. The main topics during the discussion were the occupation of Palestine, Gaza Strip’s blockade, infrastructure in the West Bank, Israel’s settlement policy, discrimination of minorities, right to self-determination, right to education, and juvenile justice.

The Arab countries were the most critical of Israel’s choices and acts, not only in the United Nations, but also in the Middle East. They strongly emphasized refugees’ rights, prisoners’ liberation and freedom of religion. During its participation, the State of Palestine declared: “Israel only understands the language of pressure.” Subsequently, Syria recommended respecting the cultural differences of Syrian people living on Golan Heights. On the other hand, United States congratulated Israel’s rejoining the HRC, supporting its democratic tradition and values, its free elections and its open society.

After all the controversy generated from this debate and all adversities in arriving at the review, the importance of the United Nations should be considered as a place where countries can approach and resolve their problems through dialogue. But this is not the final stage; it is just the beginning. Defense of human rights is not utopian, and action is the best way to prove it.

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