At a time when Israel has been the target of harsh criticism from various UN agencies, the Israeli delegation to the UN enjoyed a short moment of respite on Thursday. Israeli jurist Professor Yuval Shani has been chosen to be one of the 18 senior jurists to serve on the UN Human Rights Committee.
Shani, 43-years-old, is the dean of the law department at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an expert on international law. 112 states voted in favor of Shani joining the committee of experts. This is only the second time that an Israeli jurist was appointed to the committee; in 1995, Professor David Kretzner was chosen to serve on the committee.
Shani was elected to the position following a year-long diplomatic campaign, which was spearheaded by Israel’s envoy to the UN, Ron Prosor, and his staff. “The election of Professor Shani is cause for national pride,” said Prosor. “It has proven that with hard work, we can achieve impressive results, despite difficult beginnings. Since I entered this position, we made it our mission to put Israeli expertise on the map in the UN, and integrate Israelis into key positions in the organization,” continued Prosor.
Professor Shani will serve on the committee for the next two years, alongside senior jurists from Algeria, Argentia, Mauritius, Britain, Germany, Georgia, and Costa Rica. The UN Human Rights Committee is responsible for implementing of human and civil rights treaties all over the world. Among its duties is to ensure that UN member nations provide theirs citizens with basic freedoms, including freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of movement.
Over the past three years, Israel has suffered a series of diplomatic defeats in the various UN agencies – the Security Council resolution condemning the settlements that was only defeated due to a U.S. veto, the acceptance of Palestine as a member state of UNESCO, a UN investigation into the West Bank settlements, and extremely critical reports from the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva on operation “Cast Lead,” and the raid on the Turkish flotilla to Gaza, as well.
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