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March 5, 2019 1:04 pm

‘End the Charade,’ Israeli NGO Tells UN Human Rights Council, as Publication of Economic ‘Blacklist’ Is Again Delayed

avatar by Ben Cohen

UN Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet. Photo: Reuters / Denis Balibouse.

Nearly three years after voting for the creation of a blacklist of companies conducting business with Israeli communities in the West Bank, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Monday announced yet another delay in its publication, citing the “legal, methodological and factual complexity” involved in complying with the demand.

The UNHRC had widely been expected to publish the blacklist during its 40th session, currently being held at UN Headquarters in Geneva. But in a letter on Monday to Coly Seck, the president of the UNHRC, the recently-appointed high commissioner for human rights, Michele Bachelet, implied that she had not made sufficient progress to proceed with the blacklist.

A former president of Chile who assumed the high commissioner’s role last September, Bachelet wrote that she had consulted extensively with various “stakeholders” about the implementation of the list since taking office. Bachelet told Seck that while she was committed to implementing the resolution — originally passed on March 24, 2016 —  “given the novelty of the mandate and its legal, methodological and factual complexity, further consideration is necessary to fully respond to the Council’s request.”

Bachelet did not provide a precise date for the publication of the list, promising only to “devote requisite attention to the matter, with a view to finalizing this mandated activity in the coming months.”

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One of the Israeli NGOs that has led opposition to the blacklist said on Tuesday that Bachelet’s letter had vindicated its repeated protests since 2016.

“For more than a two years, NGO Monitor has repeatedly warned that there are significant moral, legal, and due process concerns with the creation of a UN blacklist of companies,” Anne Herzberg — legal adviser to the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor group — said in a statement. “The High Commissioner’s letter as well as past UN reports acknowledge the centrality of these issues.”

Describing the “discriminatory blacklist” as “an act of economic warfare against Israel and its allies [that] does nothing to further human rights,” Herzberg urged the UNHRC to abandon the initiative.

“The UN should not devote further resources to this charade,” Herzberg said.

The last delay to the publication of the list coincided with the departure last August of the Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein from the high commissioner’s post. Although the resolution creating the blacklist was adopted during al-Hussein’s tenure with his strong personal support, the Jordanian ran into similar difficulties that are now being encountered by Bachelet, his successor.

The new delay in the blacklist’s publication has not dampened other efforts at the UNHRC session to round on Israel. UN Watch, a Geneva-based NGO, on Monday published extracts from the drafts of “five biased resolutions condemning Israel” scheduled for March 18. The group pointed out that “Iran, North Korea and Syria will get only one resolution each, while there will be none on Turkey, Zimbabwe, China, Pakistan and other oppressive regimes.”

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