Israel Joins Powerful UN Human Rights Groups

February 11, 2014  

For the first time since being admitted as a member of the United Nations, Israel on Tuesday participated in JUSCANZ, a UN grouping which advises the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and some other UN bodies. Israel was admitted to the group in Geneva in 2010, and has now officially joined its deliberations in New York as well.

JUSCANZ is comprised of 15 countries, including Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, whose names make up the acronym. Norway and Switzerland are part of the group as well.

The move was welcomed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday, “Joining the group will allow Israel to promote initiatives and actions that are important to us regarding issues of human rights and other social issues. Our joining was made possible thanks to the fact that all the member states agreed to the move. I thank them, and especially the U.S. and Canada, whose contribution to the purpose was decisive.”

Liberman further announced that Israel had formally been accepted as an observer to the Pacific Alliance, a bloc of five Latin American countries including Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Costa Rica. Israel is the first Middle Eastern country to be granted observer status in this group.

“Israel’s admittance as an observer is testimony to its good relations with the member countries, and the mutual desire to develop the relationship,” Liberman wrote, adding that the bloc is an “attractive” market for Israel.

“So next time you hear talk about political isolation or a wave of boycotts which threaten Israel, you will know that the reality is far from it,” he wrote, adding, “Israel continues to be a leader and has the best minds in the world, and we will continue to strengthen and improve our relations with the international community.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, also welcomed Israel’s joining of JUSCANZ, noting that the move indicated that “an historical injustice has been corrected.”

“Anyone who champions human rights must celebrate this announcement. Israel’s admission into JUSCANZ highlights the international community’s recognition of our democracy. In the Middle East, a region where women are stoned to death and minorities executed, we are a beacon of human rights, equality, and freedom,” he said.

Also welcoming the move was the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, who said, “Israel’s participation in the JUSCANZ caucus in the United Nation’s Third Committee is an important step toward securing Israel’s full participation across the UN system.”

“The United States has long been a tireless advocate for Israel’s full participation and inclusion at the UN,” said Power.  “Today’s inclusion, coupled with our successful efforts to secure Israel’s membership in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) last November in Geneva, are important steps in the right direction. Israel is now able to fully participate in the main regional and core coordinating groups in New York and Geneva where much of the behind-the-scenes work at the UN gets done.”

“While more work remains, the United States will combat every effort to undermine Israel’s legitimacy as a full and equal member of the community of nations, including by ending the various forms of structural discrimination against Israel throughout the UN system,” she added.

On Monday, Power promised that she would fight and “not give up” to get Israel a seat on the UN Security Council.

Speaking to the AJC (American Jewish Committee) Board of Governors, Power said that the U.S. “strongly supports Israel’s candidacy” for a seat on the Security Council.

“We have pushed relentlessly for the full inclusion of Israel across the UN system,” she said.

Prosor announced in October that Israel plans to run for a rotating seat on the UN Security Council for the first time ever for 2019-2020, vying against Germany and Belgium.

Winning a Security Council seat requires a two-thirds majority in the 193-nation General Assembly, and UN diplomats predicted that it will not be easy for the Israel to win.

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