WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.N. Human Rights Council drew rare praise from Jewish groups for creating a position for a special rapporteur on Iran.
"Following the recent suspension of Libya’s membership in the Human Rights Council, this vote on Iran conveys another strong message that the Geneva-based body is beginning to wake up from its lethargy and look seriously at some significant violators of human rights, such as Libya and Iran," the American Jewish Committee said Thursday after the council voted 22-7, with 14 abstentions, to create the position. "American leadership has been critical to this change."
B’nai B’rith International also praised the move away from the Council’s reputation as obsessively focused on Israel.
"It is encouraging to see the council can in fact see beyond Israel," it said in a statement. "It is significant that the Human Rights Council members, some voting outside their traditional lines of support, are taking Iran’s escalating human rights abuses seriously."
Iranian-American groups also praised the vote, which Iran has dismissed as an American manipulation.
"This concrete measure sends a powerful message to the government of Iran that the world will not turn a blind eye to its human rights violations," the National Iranian American Council said in a statement.
The only other UNHRC special rapporteur addresses Palestinian issues in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Separately, an Israeli was appointed to a UNHRC subcommittee for the first time. Frances Raday will be one of five women on a working group examining discrimination against women under the law.