The United Nations Addresses Antisemitism as a Human Rights Issue: A Historic Achievement
A historic United Nations report on global antisemitism was published by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, in late 2019. It is the first-ever stand-alone human rights report dedicated solely to antisemitism. The report documents rising antisemitic violence and hate speech around the world, identifying it as a threat to Jews and as “toxic” to democratic societies. The report identifies violence, discrimination, and expressions of hostility motivated by antisemitism as a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief. It expresses “serious concern that the frequency of antisemitic incidents appears to be increasing in magnitude and that the prevalence of antisemitic attitudes and the risk of violence against Jewish individuals and sites appears to be significant, including in countries with little or no Jewish population.” To read more about the significance of this groundbreaking report, please click here.
Dr. Shaheed recommends that all member States adopt the Working Definition of Antisemitism, another first for a UN report. AJC and The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI) endorse this as well as Dr. Shaheed’s additional recommendation for an appointment of a UN focal point responsible for engaging Jewish communities around the world and monitoring antisemitism and responses. We also support Dr. Shaheed’s other recommendations to member States including the need to acknowledge the threat to stability and security posed by antisemitism; to take steps to identify, document, and prohibit the commission of antisemitic hate crimes; to enhance government outreach to Jewish communities; and to protect individuals at risk of violence.
The report treats antisemitism as a global phenomenon, not one largely confined to the U.S. and Europe. The Special Rapporteur recognizes that the sources of antisemitism are varied, coming from the far right, from members of radical Islamist groups, and from the political left.
JBI convened two expert consultations – one on antisemitism in the United States and one in Geneva involving global antisemitism monitors to share insights into the state of antisemitism around the world and best practices – that informed the Special Rapporteur’s report. Additionally, JBI helped facilitate bilateral meetings between Dr. Shaheed and contacts in smaller Jewish communities that he otherwise would have had difficulty accessing. JBI also submitted documentation to the Special Rapporteur as he developed his report.
In the video above, JBI held a launch event for Dr. Shaheed’s report at AJC headquarters in New York the day before he presented the report in front of the UN General Assembly. There, Dr. Shaheed addressed AJC and JBI leaders about his groundbreaking report and Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt offered comments. JBI continues to draw attention to this report and seek implementation of Dr. Shaheed’s key recommendations and urges organizations that monitor these situations to submit documentation to Dr. Shaheed.