An updated press release on this issue has been published on April 20, 2023 to reflect additional signatories to the letter, now totaling 104 organizations. The updated version of the letter with the new signatories is linked to this release.
(New York) – The United Nations should respect human rights in its efforts to combat antisemitism, 60 human rights and civil rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, said in an open letter to Secretary-General António Guterres and the High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations Miguel Ángel Moratinos.
The groups said that antisemitism is pernicious, poses real harm to Jewish communities around the world, and requires meaningful action to combat it. However, the UN leadership should ensure that its efforts to combat antisemitism “do not inadvertently embolden or endorse policies and laws that undermine fundamental human rights, including the right to speak and organize in support of Palestinian rights and to criticize Israeli government policies,” the groups said. The groups urged the UN not to endorse or adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. As also reported by former Special Rapporteur on Racism E. Tendayi Achiume, this definition has been misused to falsely label some criticism of Israeli government policies and/or advocacy for Palestinian rights antisemitic, the groups said. They noted that there are at least two other definitions that a number of scholars say are less open to being misused: the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism and the Nexus Document.
In addition to Human Rights Watch, signatories include the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and dozens of other organizations.