The speech from Ms Jillian Dempster, New Zealand’s permanent representative to the UN, at the 28th special session of the Human Rights Council was out of step with our traditional allies.
It should come as no surprise that the likes of Cuba, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, UAE, and Venezuela called for the special session to once again only censure Israel. And it should not be surprising that the accepted resolution did not mention Hamas, or that it called for an inquiry based on predetermined guilt. However, it is somewhat surprising that New Zealand’s representative also failed to mention Hamas.
Ms Dempster referred to “…the significant number of civilian deaths and casualties in Gaza. Like others, we are concerned about reports of live ammunition fire on civilians engaging in protest…” as if she was not aware that the Hamas-led riots were violent and that non-lethal means were attempted before the IDF resorted to live fire against those trying to breach the border to kill Israelis. And, repeating the comments of Prime Minister Ardern, Ms Dempster said “…The tragic events over the past six weeks have resulted in a devastating, one-sided loss of life…” For those comments, New Zealand’s moral deficiency was called out at the same UN meeting by Colonel Richard Kemp.
Only 5 of the 46 nations on the Human Rights Council are considered full democracies (and 13, 28%, are considered authoritarian regimes). Of the full democracies, only Spain voted for the resolution and they notably did not make a speech.
Canada does not sit on the council but representative, Rosemary McCarney, made a speech in which she said “… we cannot support the resolution before the council as it prejudges the outcome of such an investigation, is one-sided, and does not advance the prospects for a peaceful negotiated settlement to this conflict. The resolution singles out Israel without reference to other actors….”.
Similarly, Ms Elizabeth Wilde spoke on behalf of Australia, saying “…Australia is firmly of the view that Israel has legitimate security concerns and has the right to protect its population… The role of Hamas in inciting the situation on the Gaza perimeter must not be ignored. Australia is of the view that investigations into incidents where international law may have been breached must be independent and impartial. Any inquiry must be demonstrably impartial, thorough, and transparent…” before voting against the resolution.
If New Zealand had a seat at the Human Rights Council, it seems as if they would have joined Senegal and Venezuela in yet another anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations. The reasons for New Zealand’s recent shift in longstanding policy of even-handedness, condemning terrorism against Israelis, and standing alongside democratic nations are not clear.