Hybrid Side event held on June 28th 2022, sponsored by the World Jewish Congress and co-sponsored by the Missions of Israel and Sweden to UN in Geneva. Reporting Dr.Prim. Hava Bugayer- Gleitman
- Amb. Ulrika SUNDBERG, Special Envoy for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Government of Sweden.
- Amb. Merav Elon SHAHAR, Permanent Representative of Israel to United Nations & international organizations in Geneva.
- Amb. Federico VILLEGAS (Argentina), President of the Human Rights Council.
- Dr. Ahmed SHAHEED – UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
- Karel FRACAPANE, Program Specialist, Global Citizenship and Peace Education Section, UNESCO.
- Anne BERNES, Secretariat of the Swedish IHRA policy
- Caroline NURIEL, Director ADL, Israel.
- Leon SALTIEL, Representative to the UN in Geneva and UNESCO and coordinator on Countering Antisemitism, WJC
- Felice GAER, Director, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, (speaking on behalf of AJC).
The list of panelists reflects the importance and attention given to Dr. Ahmed Shaheed’s report.
In his report Dr. Ahmed Shaheed urges governments to adopt the IHRA Working definition of anti-Semitism and apply it as a non-legally binding educational and training tool. He urges to incorporate it into the training and educational materials of officials such as police, prosecutors and judges, government employees, educators and those working for human rights institutions. Anti-Semitism is a violation of human rights and leads very often to oral, virtual and physical violence. Combating of anti-Semitism is a legal obligation and should be part of the human rights agenda.
All panelists thanked Dr. Shaheed for his report that they cordially endorsed. Ambassador Elon-Shahar said that, by nominating a special rapporteur on anti-Semitism, the United Nations has pointed out the importance of the topic. She expressed her disappointment with the fact that not enough attention is drawn to anti-Semitism at the United Nations in Geneva. Special attention was also given to combating anti-Semitism within the UN an its institutions.
In Argentina, Holocaust studies are included in the curriculum of human rights studies and not in history studies, as explained by the Ambassador of Argentina.
The World Jewish Congress worked closely with Dr. Shaheed during his UN mandate and, as all other panelists, endorsed the remarkable result.
UNESCO includes the ODHIR definition of IHRA as a preventive tool against hate and against hate-killing in its educational programs around the globe, aiming also for the safety of students in academia. Examples were named, such as addressing Israel and “Jews” as a state entity is an expression of anti-Semitism that is not “a Jewish” and not “a local” problem” but can be found everywhere. Methods for acceleration of IHRA recognition by all states and its implementation in the 40 states that already recognized it were discussed.
Representatives of the USA, the UK, the UAE, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece and others welcomed the report and thanked Dr Shaheed for his extensive work, and spoke about the implementation of the IHRA definition and adopting plans to combat anti-Semitism.
The Palestinian representative made it clear that for her the importance and extension of anti-Semitism is much overrated. She is against the “political instrumentalization” of the subject. IHRA and its definition is an “instrumentalization of anti-Semitism” for political purposes, used by Israel, the “Zionist state”, since Zionism is a political movement.
Dr. Shaheed and Ambassador Sundberg replied to the Palestinian reproach by pointing out that anti-Semitism is solely an expression of hatred for cultural-religious purposes and has a deep historic background. The session was closed by pointing out that the United Nations has an obligation to fight against anti-Semitism within the UN system.
Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, born in 1964, is a Maldivian diplomat, politician and human rights activist, who served in the past as Maldivian foreign minister. He holds the UN Office of Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran. He was educated at the University of Aberystwyth, Wales, UK and obtained his PhD in international relations in University of Queensland, Australia. He lives in England and is Professor of Human Rights Practice at the University of Essex.