The United Nations has elected Iran to be vice chair of the General Assembly’s (GA) legal committee, a high-level post that will permit Tehran’s envoy to preside over the GA, run meetings, and have a leading voice in the most important debates about the international body.
Iran’s envoy to the U.N., Hossein Qaribi, was elected by acclamation, or without a vote, on Wednesday to serve as the GA Legal Committee’s vice chair, making Qaribi the body’s second in command.
The legal committee is one of the U.N.’s top decision-making organs and is tasked with considering all legal issues faced by the GA. The vice chair spot is often tasked with running the committee when the chair is not present; he helps runs meetings, has control over who speaks, and is a key figure in dealing with the body’s most pressing issues.
Iran’s appointment to the key legal body comes less than two months after it was selected by U.N. members to key spots on several committee’s tasked with defending women’s rights and global human rights.
Experts warn that Iran’s ascension to one of the committee’s top legal spots is problematic and dangerous given Iran’s record of oppressing human rights, falsely imprisoning political opponents, and general abandonment of any rule of law.
Meanwhile, Israel was singled out for criticism by the General Assembly’s Arab states and became the only nation in the meeting that was not accepted to a GA committee by acclamation. Instead, Israel was forced to stand before the body for a full vote on its admittance into the GA’s Forth Committee, which is known for its anti-Israel bias.
"The moral inversion of today’s United Nations is scandalous," Anne Bayefsky, a U.N. expert and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust (IHRH), told the Washington Free Beacon.
"Iran is chosen by acclamation—without a vote—to serve on the executive of the UN General Assembly committee charged with ensuring the rule of law. And Israel is the only country forced to stand for election on the General Assembly committee whose primary job is to condemn Israel," Bayefsky said. "Iran can now add legal-beagle to its UN resume, right after women's rights guru as a member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women."
Appointment by acclamation is the norm at the U.N. and only Israel did not receive this treatment by the GA.
When Israel stood to receive its appointment to the GA’s Fourth Committee a delegation of Arab nations stood to reject the appointment.
"The Arab Group of states rejected the nomination of Israel by the Group of Western European and Other States (WEOG), for the vice-chair of the Special Political and Decolonization (Fourth) Committee," according to a recounting of the vote by Human Rights Voices (HRV), a U.N. watchdog group created by Bayefsky.
The Fourth Committee is notorious for going after Israel, "and is the origin of the majority of anti-Israel resolutions adopted by the Assembly every year," according to HRV.
During the most recent vote, Qatar spoke for the Arab delegation and opposed Israel’s admittance to the committee, stating that the Jewish state’s "track record was rife with murder."
The Arab Group additionally "expressed regret that there had been no other candidate from the group of states to which Israel belonged," according to HRV.
Israel’s U.N. representative lashed out at this move, calling "the vote an assault on the rules and norms of the United Nations" and "asking delegates whether it served the General Assembly’s interests or the ‘hate-filled politics of a small group of nations,’" according to an official accounting of the meeting published by the U.N.
The Arab Group presented "fictitious and unfounded" claims, according to Israel, and had set "a dangerous precedent" by allowing the U.N. "to be degraded and discredited," according to the meeting record.
Israel ultimately won the vote, garnering 74 votes with 68 abstentions by the Arab states and their allies.
Meanwhile, Iran’s appointment was unequivocally approved without a vote.