The United Nations – From ally to anti-Semitic platform
Many are surprised to learn that institutions at the forefront of international law once served as allies of the Jewish people. Decades ago, the tragedy of the Holocaust prompted the international legal community to remedy its failure to protect Jews and human rights in general.
Just three years after the Holocaust, the international legal community has taken unprecedented steps. He founded the United Nations, a key player in international law. He tried Nazis at the Nuremberg trials, which for the first time tried crimes against humanity. He also issued the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, seeking to prevent future holocausts.
While these initiatives all involved the international community as a whole, the UN also made a specific commitment to Jewish security. So in 1947 he voted in favor of recognition of a Jewish state and a refuge in Israel.
Although the international legal community has proven to be one of the first allies of the Jewish people, times have changed. Instead of defending Jewish welfare, the UN is now attacking its safety net by demonizing Israel, the target of more than 70% of all General Assembly resolutions condemning a specific state since 2015. This is the target. definition of a double standard.
By aiming to delegitimize the Jewish state, after initially supporting its international recognition, the UN has fueled a big misconception that Israel is a rogue state that does not respect international law. This wrongly inspired many people to hate the Jewish state, and inevitably, the Jewish people.
Forty-seven countries, led by Austria, have just pledged to fight anti-Semitism at the UN Human Rights Council. Although refreshing, it is sad that this initiative has taken so long and failed to inspire more support for an institution that is supposed to be dedicated to human rights. How could the UN undergo such a transformation from an ally into a catalyst for anti-Semitism? The answer lies in the emergence of new, undemocratic UN member states.
Institutions are as good as their members. When the UN was founded, its membership was largely democratic. Of its 51 founding members, at least 28 are democracies, according to the Economistthe latest democracy clue from.
At the time, the UN was committed to human rights for all people, including Jews. These sympathies were probably a consequence of the democratic nature of the UN. After all, “democracy is subordinate to respect for rights and freedoms,” as the UN declared in 2012.
Over time, however, the UN has evolved into a democratic forum for dictatorships. Largely due to the decolonization and dissolution of the USSR, the membership of the UN exploded after 1959, from 83 states to 193 today, with Asia and Africa gaining considerably more representation. African states have gone from four seats in the original UN Assembly to 54 today, more than a quarter of the total number of seats. During the same period, the membership of Asian states increased from nine to 47 members.
These developments were good and necessary. However, many emerging states were and continue to be ruled by undemocratic regimes. For example, of the 50 African countries surveyed, 42 are non-democracies. Of the 45 Asian countries studied, 32 are non-democracies. After the collapse of the USSR into 15 newly independent republics, 12 became non-democracies.
As non-democracies gained representation in the UN, democracy suffered: of the 167 countries studied, only 75 are now democracies. With such high representation, non-democracies have managed to hijack the most sacrosanct organs of the United Nations, including the Human Rights Council (HRC).
Founded in 2006, the HRC has largely set the global human rights agenda. And yet, on the council’s available annual lists, non-democracies have won a majority in seven of its 15 years.
The non-democratic members of the CHR have sought to deflect attention from their own abuses. Many have even become regular members of the HRC, a necessity to maintain their influence.
These recurring players include the biggest perpetrator of human rights abuses, including China, which appeared on 14 of the 15 annual lists despite its genocide against the Uyghurs; Cuba, which has appeared 14 times despite a long record of suppressing dissent; and Qatar, which has appeared 12 times despite its modern slavery.
Unsurprisingly, none of these countries has been condemned by the CHR. This likely reflects how non-democracies allegedly used “block voting and excessive procedural manipulation to prevent debate over their human rights violations,” according to a Congressional Research Service publication.
Instead, non-democracies have focused the UN condemnations on another country. Following the global toll of blaming the Jews, they chose Israel. The HRC has dotted Israel with 56% of all convictions, and agenda item 7 – focusing on Israel – is the only standing item on the council’s agenda devoted to considering cases of one country.
In addition, non-democracies have made Israel the scapegoat in the General Assembly. In 2019, Yemen and Kuwait sponsored anti-Israel resolutions 14 times, while Cuba and Jordan were 13 times. Only once has the instigators of an anti-Israel condemnation in the General Assembly been largely democratic. This disparity shows how nondemocracies shamelessly scapegoat Israel, while democracies generally do not.
In short, the Jewish people once enjoyed the protection of the international legal community. This alliance, fueled by post-Holocaust remorse, was short-lived. It declined as non-democracies, needing a scapegoat to escape accountability, came to dominate the UN. They blamed Israel – the Jew among the nations. And just like that, the international legal community forgot the lessons of anti-Semitism that fueled its greatest achievements.
Jordan Cope is the Director of Political Education for StandWithUs.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.