Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
UN Human Rights Council – A Barometer for Gauging the Credibility of the United Nations

Canadians remain strongly committed to the process of multilateral diplomacy. But they are increasingly sensitive to the fact that the deficiencies and dysfunctionality of the United Nations system stands at complete variance to the core Canadian values of fairness, impartiality and equality.

Canada supported the establishment of a reformulated UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that, in the words of UN Ambassador John McNee, should “move beyond the politicized squabbles that hobbled and discredited its predecessor” (the UN Commission on Human Rights). However, since the new institution’s inaugural session in June 2006, Canada has been compelled to vote against all Israel-related regular resolutions and emergency resolutions that Canada considered to be unconstructive, disproportionate, unfair, and harmful to the United Nations’ overall credibility to help manage or resolve international and regional disputes.

Addressing the 61st UN General Assembly in September 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked, “Will the new Human Rights Council become a forum where human rights are genuinely put above political manoeuvring? Or will it emulate the fate of its failed predecessor organization?”

Speaking on June 19, 2007, the then Foreign Minister Peter MacKay expressed Canada’s disappointment that the UNHRC had still failed to “meet the test of its principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity.” Specifically, he noted that “Canada cannot accept the inclusion of a permanent agenda item on Palestine and the occupied Arab territories, as it singles out one situation for highly politicized, partial and subjective treatment of a complex issue.”