Effects and impacts on the latest UN Human Rights Council resolutionMonday 15/04/2024

Two weeks ago, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted the resolution A/HRC/55/L.30, marking the first official position of the top UN human rights body on the war that started on October 7 atrocities. With a historical background of struggles against Israel by the Council, what does this resolution in particular say and omit? What are the direct effects and impacts on the Jewish State? Let’s go deep in.

The UNHRC is the principal intergovernmental body responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights. Since its creation in 2006, the Council has worked to address and take action on human rights violations around the globe. It is composed of 47 member States who are elected by the UN General Assembly for three-year terms. Even though the UNHRC mission is relevant and necessary with the vast number of gory conflicts in the world, its exclusive ‘preference’ with Israel calls into question the Council’s prestige and reputation.

In 2007, when the UNHRC’s members were discussing the working methods of the body, they determined that Israel would be the only country whose human rights record is examined under a special agenda item (No. 7), while all other countries’ records are examined in the general debate. From the beginning of its activities, Israel has been by far the biggest target of the Council’s resolutions, with 104[1] condemnatory resolutions. Next on the list is Syria with 43, North Korea with 16, and Iran with 14. Not enough, it adopted zero resolutions on gross human rights abuses perpetrated in countries like Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey or Zimbabwe. The open bias of the Council was once again proven during its previous session, which concluded on October 13, when it failed to condemn the terror attacks carried out by Hamas.

The recently approved resolution was brought forward by Pakistan on behalf of the members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the 55th Regular Session of the UNHRC. It calls upon all States to cease the sale, transfer, and diversion of arms to Israel and calls all States to ensure that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) receives predictable, sustained, and sufficient funding, and calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. It was approved by 28 state members, with 13 abstentions, and only 6 countries rejected the resolution, including Argentina, Germany, and the United States.

From a long list of questionable condemnations of Israel that are part of the document, two of them draw attention. First, the call for an arms embargo certainly puts into question Israel’s right to self-defense, as it is an explicit attempt to influence the Israel Defense Forces’ capacity. This request not only publicly benefits Hamas but also tries to affect the balance of power in the Middle East and the bilateral economic and military relations of Israel. Once an arms embargo is put in place, it can affect major agreements and alliances that are fundamental for Israel’s defense against Hamas and other enemies in the region, primarily Iran.

Secondly, it endorses UNRWA and urges its continued funding, despite all evidence[2] that their employees participated in the October 7 massacres and that Hamas has completely infiltrated UNRWA’s staff and exploited its facilities for terrorist purposes. Thus, an open call for the continuity of this agency is a clear message that the UNHRC is blinded about the structural failure of UNRWA, putting at risk both Israelis and Palestinian lives.

As the ‘guardian’ of global human rights protection, the Council drastically failed (once again) when it didn’t comment on the October 7 atrocities committed by Hamas, marked as the darkest day of the Jewish People since the Holocaust with 1,200 murdered. The resolution refuses to describe Hamas’s atrocities for genocidal threats against Israeli civilians, including mass rape and sexual violence against women, or torture and sexual violence against hostages in Gaza, which is still ongoing and has already gone public.[3] Additionally, the resolution is very slight when referring to the remaining 133 hostages taken by Hamas, dedicating 2 sentences from the 8-page document to it.

Approved on the eve of the mark of 180 days of war, the text is clearly one-sided against Israel, as Hamas is not even mentioned once. Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, accused the UNHRC of having “long abandoned the Israeli people and long defended Hamas.” This resolution is a moral stain on the Council, as it fails to acknowledge Hamas’ responsibilities and undermines Israel’s right to self-defense.

Does the A/HRC/55/L.30 resolution have feasible implications? Amid its possible effects and impacts, it can strengthen the political pressure of the international community on Israel or even influence the diplomatic relations with the countries who took an active part in the resolution. But its most visible effect is the symbolic value of the Council’s condemnation, although it isn’t the first UN institution to state on the current Israel-Gaza War[4][5][6]. The main question is if the resolution will lead the countries to join the arms embargo. Until now, Canada[7] and The Netherlands[8] have announced their intention to halt the sales of weapons to Israel, nevertheless it looks challenging that this international pressure will speak louder than the nation’s military interests.

The UNHRC’s recent resolution seems to have a low direct impact on Israel, but it turns on another yellow light about further implications. Yet, this resolution not only disclaims Hamas’ responsibility for the horrific atrocities it committed but also denies what happened on October 7 and doesn’t call in a clear and forceful way for the immediate return of the 133 hostages taken in captivity in inhuman conditions.

Moreover, in the side-event[9] promoted by the Jerusalem Institute of Justice during the 55th regular session of the UNHRC, Dr Sigall Horovitz precisely cleared out: “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has reached the bottom of the pit, we are in the heart of darkness. Do we want to stay there? Or do we want to finally address the causes of the violence? Without it, we will never be safe from atrocities”.

Article by: Ionatan Gottfried


[1] UN Watch Database. https://unwatch.org/database/

[2] Israel reveals 12 UNRWA staffers it says took part in Oct. 7, says 30 more assisted. (2024, February 16). The Times of Israel. https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-reveals-12-unrwa-staffers-it-says-took-part-in-oct-7-says-30-more-assisted/

[3] Israeli hostage says she was sexually assaulted and tortured in Gaza. (2024, March 26). The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/26/world/middleeast/hamas-hostage-sexual-assault.html

[4] U.N. Security Council passes resolution demanding immediate Hamas-Israel war cease-fire, release of hostages. (2024, March 25). CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/israel-hamas-war-cease-fire-gaza-un-security-council-resolution-ramadan/

[5] General Assembly Adopts Resolution Demanding Immediate Humanitarian Ceasefire in Gaza, Parties’ Compliance with International Law, Release of All Hostages | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases. (2023, December 12). https://press.un.org/en/2023/ga12572.doc.htm

[6] Order of 26 January 2024 | INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE. https://www.icj-cij.org/node/203447

[7] Lazaroff, B. T. (2024, March 20). Canada to stop arms sale to Israel, FM Joly says. The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/article-792782

[8] Reuters, B. (2024, February 12). Dutch court orders halt to export of F-35 jet parts to Israel. The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/article-786463

[9] Jerusalem Institute of Justice (2024, March 28). Preventing Genocide: Legal Perspectives on Oct. 7th [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82TPJzTPXHM

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