Israel Alone is Denied the Right to be Equal Member in the Work of the United Nations
by Gad Nahshon
Statement by Ambassador Yehuda Lancry Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations The Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters Related to the Security Council
Today we speak of a goal that everyone can understand. It is the goal of a more equitable and representative Security Council. I wish to emphasize that the State of Israel wholly supports this aim. We, too, share the vision of a Security Council that is more equitable and transparent in its work and accountability, and more representative of Member States.
However, any talk of this purpose is incomplete - when it omits the most glaring case of inequity and lack of representation that tarnishes this organization today.
I refer to the fact that my country is still denied membership in a regional group. This obstacle prevents Israel, alone, from being able to be elected to the main organs of the UN, including the Security Council. We alone, therefore, are denied the right to be an equal member in the work of the United Nations.
Mr. President, Article II of the Charter stipulates that "the organization is based on the principle of sovereign equality of its members." The fact that Israel cannot join any regional group stands in direct contradiction to this principle.
In a recent judicial opinion put out by Justice Sir Robert Jennings, QC, who served as Judge and President of the International Court of Justice (1991-1994), it is noted that the exclusion of Israel is a form of discrimination, rendering the Member States and the United Nations in violation of their legal obligations under the Charter (Opinion Regarding the Exclusion of Israel from the United Nations Regional Group, Sir Robert Jennings, 4 November 1999, section 4.11). Justice Jennings writes: "Such discrimination prevents Israel enjoying the full benefits of its membership and places the United Nations in breach of the Charter." In particular, Justice Jennings states: "Israel's exclusion from the regional group system places the United Nations in breach of its fundamental obligations regarding sovereign equality, and is thus illegal."
Moreover, the Member States themselves are likewise bound by these fundamental obligations. As Justice Jennings states: "It is evident too that Members are under an obligation to remedy the present situation." My country arose out of the scattered remnants of 2,000 years of exile, in which the Jewish people suffered as a displaced nation, without a voice or a home in the world community. Our dream, the dream that gave birth to the State of Israel, was to finally rejoin the family of nations. We, too, would merge with the chorus of the international community, as an equal voice. That basic right - the right enjoyed by every member of this organization large and small - was promised in the admission of Israel in 1949 as a member of the UN. Fifty years later, we have yet to enjoy it.
We have been waiting to realize our potential in the workings of the United Nations. We yearn for an opportunity to participate fully and equally in the initiatives launched here. This is not merely our right as a Member State. It is a manifestation of our deepest aspirations as a people and as a country.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently called attention to the anomaly of Israel's exclusion. (See statement of Sunday, 12 December 1999, Press Release doc. SG/SM/7260.) He stated: "The exclusion of Israel from the system of regional groupings ... these and other circumstances have given a regrettable impression of bias and one-sidedness."
The Secretary-General added: "I had very much hoped that Member States would have reached agreement on this by now. As I have said before, we must uphold the principle of equality among Member States. I shall keep encouraging all concerned to find a solution." No reform of the Security Council can be complete without facing this injustice. Mr. President, I ask that this anomaly in the UN system be addressed and rectified. As long as one Member State is denied the equal participation granted to all others, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter remain unfulfilled.
Thank you Mr. President.
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