WASHINGTON – Professor Yuval Shany, dean at the Hebrew University's law faculty who was elected to serve on the UN's Human Rights Committee, was celebrating his achievement on Thursday night.
Speaking of his new role, Shany praised the Foreign Ministry and Israel's mission to the UN who managed to push the decision after a lengthy diplomatic campaign.
"The fact that Israel was elected to a body with so many hostile countries and others, who see Israel as a human rights violator is not a trivial matter," Shany told Ynet.
The judicial body reviews human rights violations (Photo: Reuters)
The 43-year old legal expert who was elected with 112 countries voting in favor of the move, is one of nine people selected for a four year tenure by 167 UN member countries who are signed on the international human and political rights convention.
The committee has a total of 18 legal experts and they serve as the judicial body that examines whether each country fulfills the international laws on human rights.
The body can criticize each member country's activities, but has no authority to pass rulings.
It is the second time that an Israeli lawyer is elected to serve on the global body. The first was Professor David Kretzmer in 1995. In contrast to the Human Rights Council which is based in Geneva and which serves as a political body, the Human Rights Committee is a judicial body of legal experts.
Its members do not receive a salary and meet three times a year – each time for a three week period, to oversee the implementation of the convention throughout the globe. The committee's role is to ensure that countries which are signatories of the convention do in fact give their citizens basic liberties like freedom of expression, movement and association.
"I am very happy to have been selected the role comes with a great deal of prestige but the work itself is interesting," Professor Shany noted. "Israel is a country that often finds itself being criticized by the international community. It is a point of interest with me to examine other countries activities.
"Each country must submit a regular report on its activities and as a committee member I can influence committee decisions that are agreed upon."
According to Shany: "As an Israeli committee member I cannot sit on committee meetings regarding Israel but I hope I can contribute and help other friends in understanding the special challenges faced by a country like Israel. There is room for criticism but the positive side should also be mentioned."
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said that the development is "an achievement for Israel's delegation to the UN, and a cause for national pride."
“It is a testament to the appreciation shown toward Israel and proof that with hard work we achieve impressive results, in spite of the very difficult opening conditions,” Prosor added.