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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Last week EoZ was the only English-language outlet to report about how the "Western European and Others" group had unanimously nominated Israel to be the head of the UN's Legal -Sixth Committee, and how the Arab states were freaking out over it.

Things got even more interesting since then:
The chairmanships of the GA main committees are allocated on a rotational basis and are usually confirmed without a vote. In this case, however, Yemen, on behalf of the Arab Group, challenged Israel’s nomination and asked for a vote.
Syria and Kuwait, those paradigms of human rights, also demanded the vote.

This is apparently the first time in UN history that such a vote was requested for a committee chair.
The representative of Norway, speaking on behalf of the Western European and other States Group, expressed regret that the Arab Group had requested a vote, she said, noting that never before had any Committee Chair been elected by a vote. Today’s proceedings would set an unfortunate precedent, she said.
Turkey was the only state in the Western European group that did not agree to Norway's statement of regret.

The secret ballot supporting Israel passed:
In Monday's secret ballot election in the 193-member world body, Israel received 109 "yes" votes. Nobody voted against Israel but there were 23 abstentions, 14 invalid ballots, and 43 votes for other countries in the Western European and Others group which nominated Israel to chair the assembly committee dealing with legal issues.
Other states known for their human rights records whined about the vote afterwards:
The representative of Yemen, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said Israel violated the United Nations Charter, international laws and United Nations resolutions. Israel had considered itself to be “above the law”. He regretted to say that there had been no alternative candidate and reaffirmed the Group’s rejection of Israel’s nomination. The representative of Iran said the secret ballot would go down in history. Israel had violated international law, humanitarian law and many United Nations resolutions and had denied those actions, rejecting calls made by the international community. The decision to elect Mr. Danon undermined the credibility of the United Nations

It is interesting that a secret ballot supported Israel's chairing the committee. Presumably, if the ballot had been open, many countries would have voted against Israel simply because of their fear of backlash or consequences from Arab nations.

The entire episode shows that despite the rare welcome outcome, the UN remains a joke populated by clowns.

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