First Ever: Israel Boycotts Routine UN Rights Council Review

Rights Council Unclear on How to Respond to Boycott

by Jason Ditz, January 29, 2013

All 193 members of the United Nations are required to undergo periodic reviews of their internal human rights situation. Attendance by an official from the country is mandatory, and the Israeli meeting today was expected to be routine.

Today’s meeting of the UN Rights Council therefore is a totally unprecedented situation, as Israel’s outgoing government announced a full boycott of the meeting and refused to attend, the first time that’s ever happened. Even the US was said to be surprised at the move, and urged Israel to attend.

What the UN can do about it remains to be seen, though the US gave its full backing to a resolution, not mentioning Israel by name, which urged all nations to comply with the periodic reviews.

Israeli human rights groups also condemned the move, saying that while it was fine for the Israeli government to dispute specific criticisms of its policies, it should continue to engage with the council for routine meetings.

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