UN Watch Accomplishments July 2020 – March 2021
• For our work from January to June, please see the 2020 UN Watch Annual Report.
• Please see at the bottom for our 2021 Challenges.
Uruguay fires top official after UN Watch exposed vote against Israel for
“violating women’s rights”
In September 2020, the UN’s 54-nation Economic and Social Council adopted a resolution
condemning only Israel for allegedly violating women’s rights. Systematic oppression of
women in misogynistic countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan went ignored.
UN Watch was the first to reveal this absurdity in viral social media posts, exposing how
UN Watch’s coverage sparked outrage in Uruguay, which shamefully joined the likes of
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, and Pakistan in adopting the resolution. The story was picked
up by the Semanario Hebreo JAI website, and then covered by local media including El
Observador and El Pais.
In reaction, Uruguayan lawmaker Ope Pasquet filed an official protest with the foreign
ministry. Former Uruguayan President Julio María Sanguinetti supported the complaint,
saying the vote was a “mistake from the government.”
In the end, Uruguay Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo declared that their UN vote was a
“circumstantial error” and that Uruguay’s “foreign policy will keep its historical stance to
defend the rights of Israel.” He then fired his ministry’s director-general of political affairs,
Ambassador Pablo Sader.
WHO assembly deviates from pandemic to condemn Israel
In November 2020, when the World Health Organization’s annual assembly deviated from
its focus on the coronavirus pandemic in order to condemn only one country—Israel—UN
Watch broke the story and countered with its own report documenting extensive Israeli
health cooperation with Palestinians. Thanks to UN Watch’s prior advocacy, several
countries this year shifted their votes from Yes to Abstain, including Sweden, Norway,
Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Iceland, and Uruguay. There were 32 abstentions this year, 11
more than in 2019. UN Watch’s report was carried by Ynet, i24news, Times of Israel,
Algemeiner, and Israel Hayom.
Report on Swiss TV’s anti-Israel UNRWA documentary
In December, UN Watch took on a biased Swiss TV documentary, which was broadcast
across Europe on the Arte network, that whitewashed UNRWA’s anti-Israel record. In a 15-
page report, UN Watch documented the partisan record of the show’s lead journalist AnneFrédérique Widmann, including her numerous social media posts defending UNRWA,
downplaying and dismissing concerns about antisemitism, and endorsing the portrayal of
Israel as an “apartheid” state that commits “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians. UN
Watch submitted a complaint letter to Swiss TV chief Pascal Crittin, requesting the RTS
network to “inform its viewers about Ms. Widmann’s highly partisan position regarding
UNRWA when the program is broadcast.” Her partisanship on the issue “appears to violate
RTS’s Code of Ethics which places a strong emphasis on impartiality and objectivity,” wrote
UN Watch. Swiss TV immediately rejected the complaint, but it put them on notice.
Combating anti-Israel votes at the General Assembly
When the General Assembly in November commenced its annual ritual of adopting anti-Israel resolutions, UN Watch led the news and social media coverage with viral posts and
press releases exposing the hypocrisy and revealing how countries voted. In 2020, the
General Assembly adopted 17 resolutions condemning Israel, and only 6 on the rest of the
world combined. Gross violations by abusers like China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey
went ignored. Our report was covered by the Toronto Sun, Politiko of The Philippines, CNS
News, JNS and Algemeiner. UN Watch also launched petitions urging countries to change
Hillel Neuer testifies before UK Foreign Affairs Committee
In September, the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee invited UN Watch’s Hillel
Neuer to testify about Britain’s role in multilateral organizations. UN Watch was the only
voice providing balance to a panel of witnesses otherwise comprised of the UK
representatives of Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Association, as well as
officials from the UN human rights office. “The membership of tyrannies has an enormous,
deleterious impact on the functioning, effectiveness, and credibility of the Human Rights
Council,” Neuer told the parliamentarians. “When you have members like Eritrea,
Venezuela and the others, their primary objective is to deflect attention from their own
crimes. Not a single EU country is saying a word about this,” said Neuer. “I agree
wholeheartedly with Mr. Neuer,” said Alicia Kearns, MP, “that the HRC has become a sham
and a shield for genocidal tyrants essentially to have a puff piece to say that they sit on the
Human Rights Council while they go around the world and home committing appalling
Knesset holds urgent session for UN Watch testimony on UN’s assault on Israel
In December, the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee held an urgent
meeting on the UN’s assault on Israel—and UN Watch’s reporting, data, and analysis on the
UN targeting of Israel was a central focus of the proceedings. Hillel Neuer was invited to
testify, and he engaged in an intense discussion with Member of Knesset Avi Dichter, the
former head of the Shin Bet security agency, as described in this video message. The
lawmakers were particularly keen to learn about UN Watch’s powerful new Database, a
digital advocacy tool which tracks anti-Israel bias and the role of dictatorships in various
UN bodies. Our new online platform prompts people to send petitions to governments
around the world—in numerous different languages—urging countries to stop voting
against Israel. The meeting underscored how UN Watch has become the authoritative voice
on these matters for the Israeli parliament.
JNS ranks Hillel Neuer as “Top 40 Global Advocates for Israel”
JNS.org ranked UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer in its list of Top 40 Global Advocates for Israel
Online, along with Gal Gadot and other personalities. “Each of these inspiring leaders have
two things in common: They are making a real difference and are fearless advocates for the
Jewish state,“ wrote JNS. Separately, in August 2020, Canadian Jewish newspaper TheJ.ca
recognized Hillel Neuer as a “superstar Israel advocate” for his “exemplary leadership” in
defending Israel, noting his strong social media presence and viral videos defending Israel
in international fora.
Called out hypocrisy of regimes judging the U.S. on racism, angering China
When the UNHRC held an urgent debate focusing on American “systemic racism, police
brutality and violence against peaceful protests,” UN Watch was the only NGO to question
the council’s ability to treat the issue properly. As quoted in Reuters: “Hillel Neuer of the
Geneva-based UN Watch told the forum: ‘We are concerned this session may be a farce
when some of the worst practitioners of police brutality and racism will be the ones asked
to be the judges.’”
Ahead of the session, Neuer testified before the council:
“We propose that Council members which practice systematic racism or police
brutality refrain from taking part—that they recuse themselves.
We ask Mauritania: given that you have an estimated 500,000 black slaves, with
CNN referring to Mauritania as “slavery’s last stronghold,” will your country recuse
itself from this urgent debate on racism against blacks?
We ask Libya: given that your country subjects up to a million African migrants to
virtual slavery—trapped in a terrifying cycle of extortion, imprisonment, forced
labor and prostitution—will Libya recuse itself?
We ask Venezuela: given that in just 5 days last year, your forces killed 47
protesters, and arbitrarily detained 900 people, will the Maduro government recuse
UN Watch’s remarks were also reported by the Washington Examiner and by CNS News.
When the urgent debate was held, Neuer said:
“Is this UN Human Rights Council qualified to investigate racism and police
brutality? Let us consider who chooses the council’s experts. For reasons unclear-,
the representative of China was just appointed, and will now play a central role in
selecting 17 UN human rights experts this year. This is the same government that
has locked up 1 million Muslims in camps. Amazingly, last summer, 50 ambassadors
from this UN Human Rights Council submitted a letter praising China for this
China took the floor to lash out at what it called “ungrounded attacks” by UN Watch. The
Chinese delegate complained about Neuer “abusing the forum to level unwanted attacks
against sovereign states,” and said he hoped that “this forum will not become a forum to
abuse human rights.”
Revealed: China-led UN panel chose ex-Amnesty chief as free speech monitor
When former Amnesty International chief Irene Khan was appointed as the UNHRC
monitor on free speech, UN Watch revealed that China had chaired the vetting process—
and that Khan enjoys close ties with Beijing’s regime,. In an op-ed in Newsweek, Hillel
Neuer exposed that as head of Amnesty, Khan had favored a dictatorship-friendly narrative
elevating “economic, social and cultural rights” over basic civil liberties like freedom of
expression. After leaving Amnesty, Khan headed an international law organization which
was partly funded by China, and she visited China frequently and praised the communist
regime’s policies. In an interview with Sky News Australia, Neuer said that Khan’s lavish
praise for China’s was “rather strange for someone who’s supposed to be a world champion
of human rights.” The story was also reported by Fox News, Taiwan’s Taipei Times and
India’s The Sentinel.
Cuban president lashes out after UN Watch brings dissident to confront regime
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel lashed out at “mercenaries of the empire” after UN
Watch brought a prominent dissident and victim to confront Havana’s delegate in the
plenary of the Human Rights Council.
In June 2021, Cuban activists on social media followed with anxious concern the hunger
strike of former political prisoner Dr. Adi Ruiz Urquiola, who camped outside the UN
human rights office in Geneva to demand a hearing. Dr. Urquiola had previously been jailed
by Cuba for accusing the government of damaging the environment.
Organized by UN Watch, Dr. Urquiola’s speech at the UNHRC was interrupted multiple
times by Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, China, and Venezuela, who unsuccessfully tried
to silence him. Australia defended his right to speak. After the dissident concluded, Cuba
again took the floor to accuse him of making “false” and “absurd” accusations” on behalf of
“a propaganda machine based in Miami.”
Opponents of Cuba’s brutal regime worldwide were inspired by Urquiola’s stand.
Numerous videos of the incident were posted on social media, generating hundreds of
thousands of views. Activists credited UN Watch for organizing the testimony and media
coverage, which included a report by Agence France Presse.
Led campaign against election of dictators to UNHRC
Ahead of the October 2020 election of member states to the Human Rights Council, UN
Watch led the campaign against the absurd candidacies of China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other dictatorships. UN Watch’s campaign was covered by major media worldwide,
including the Associated Press, Washington Post, BBC, The Guardian, Le Figaro, and The Times
of India. Our social media posts dominated the conversation.
• First to expose candidacies: UN Watch was the first to report to the world the
candidacies of dictatorships, exposing their failure to meet the UN’s own criteria. As
a result, then-candidate Joe Biden tweeted that electing Cuba “would betray Cuba’s
political prisoners.” Miami mayoral candidate Esteban Bovo tweeted thanks to UN
Watch for “exposing the lies of the Cuban regime.”
• Lodged formal protest: UN Watch lodged official complaints with the United
Nations, published as official UN documents for the September 2020 UNHRC
session, against the election of China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.
• Published major report: With the co-sponsorship of friendly human rights groups,
UN Watch published a 30-page report documenting the abuses of candidates, which
was circulated to UN diplomats.
• Press conference: UN Watch hosted an online press conference, attended by major
media, featuring leading human rights dissidents from the candidate countries, who
urged UN member states to oppose their candidacies: Yang Jianli, President of
Initiatives for China and former political prisoner; Rosa Maria Paya, Cuban human
rights activist; Vladimir Kara-Murza, Russian democracy activist who was twice
poisoned; and Taha Siddiqui, an award-winning Pakistani journalist attacked for
criticizing the military.
• China lashes out: As a result of our advocacy which was echoed by many senior
politicians, including a French lawmaker, China’s Ambassador to France lashed out,
saying: “Stop sowing turmoil over Xinjiang-related issues that are entirely China’s
internal affairs. No country or force has the right to interfere and all attempts
against China are doomed to failure.”
UN Watch hosts first-ever online Gala
COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions made it impossible to hold the UN Watch
Annual Gala Dinner in Geneva, our flagship fundraising event. UN Watch quickly rose to the
challenge and came up with an alternative. Our first-ever online Gala took place on
November 1st, 2020, with two outstanding speakers: journalist Bari Weiss, who received
our Per Ahlmark Award, and Iranian women’s rights activist Shaparak Shajarizadeh, who
received our Morris B. Abram Human Rights Award, as reported in Canada’s Globe and
Mail. The event was a huge success. More than 1,600 friends of UN Watch from 31
countries tuned in to the Gala, and UN Watch’s campaign raised close to $700,000.
• Bari Weiss: “It was as an undergraduate at Columbia now 15 years ago where I first
encountered the Soviet lie that Ambassador Moynihan famously bellowed against
during his unforgettable speech in November 1975 — and that remains among the
most durable and insidious untruths that Hillel Neuer and UN Watch continue to
battle tirelessly today. That lie? That Zionism is racism.”
• Shaparak Shajarizadeh: “UN Watch is so important because when the world chooses
to remain silent, UN Watch chooses to make noise. And when the UN gives a free
pass to abusers, UN Watch holds them to account. I thank UN Watch for being my
partner in bringing justice to victims of the Iranian regime.”
Venezuela, Cuba, China try to shut down UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer
During the September 2020 UNHRC session, UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer confronted China and
Venezuela on their human rights records and their membership on the UNHRC, drawing
angry interruptions. The clashes were reported in CNS News and India’s Business World.
Citing to the UNHRC’s own fact-finding mission to Venezuela, which found the Maduro
regime guilty of crimes against humanity, Neuer asked: “By what logic, and by what
morality can a convicted murderer, torturer and rapist—convicted by your own
investigators—remain a member of this Human Rights Council?” Venezuela’s
representative objected that Neuer was “out of order.” Cuba joined in, complaining that
Neuer was “politicizing the Council” and using “abusive language,” and insisted that
delegates “cannot question the candidacies of member states, it is a lack of respect for the
Council.” The chair defended Neuer’s right to speak and allowed him to conclude. Video &
Speaking on China, Neuer quoted the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination, which found that Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang are subjected to arbitrary
detentions and enforced disappearances. Neuer asked: “By what logic should a
representative of this country be part of the 5-member panel that just nominated this
Council’s next investigators on arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances?” China
immediately interrupted and called to shut down the speech, saying it was not relevant to
Agenda Item 3. Yet in reply, Neuer cited a letter by 50 UNHRC representatives that had
absurdly praised China’s treatment of the Uighurs—which they had submitted under
Agenda Item 3. The video of the speech went viral on Twitter and was reported by Yahoo
Protested WHO’s appointment of New Zealand’s pro-Beijing Helen Clark
to lead coronavirus inquiry UN Watch was the first to protest the WHO’s appointment of former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark to co-chair an international inquiry into the origins and global
response to the coronavirus pandemic. In a November 10, 2020 letter, UN Watch exposed
her close ties with China, including praise of its response to the coronavirus, and called on
Clark to recuse herself. Our exposé was widely reported in the New Zealand media and
around the world, including in The Wall Street Journal, the New Zealand Herald, News Hub,
The Washington Times and the Daily Mail. Upset, Clark pressured New Zealand media to
delete their news articles. Interviewed on Sky News Australia, UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer
refuted Clark’s claim that she had “no ties with China at all,” explaining that she has been
promoting China for more than three decades.
Hypocrisy: Dictators attack U.S. record on human rights
When the United States came up for its regular Universal Periodic Review at the UNHRC in
November, UN Watch’s viral tweets exposed the hypocrisy of abusive regimes sitting in
judgment, including Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua,
Belarus and Turkey. For example, Russia, which poisons dissidents and assassinates
journalists, said: “We call on the U.S. to guarantee freedom of expression and the media.
and create circumstances for journalists to do their work.” UN Watch’s critique was
reported by Fox News, The National Interest, and The Post Millennial.
UN Watch recognized by Halifax International Security Forum
The Halifax International Security Forum, a prestigious organization that strengthens
strategic cooperation among democratic nations recognized UN Watch for their
contribution to its Handbook for Democracies, “and for keeping authoritarian regimes like
China in check.”
Latest from 2021:
• In March 2021 at the UNHRC, after Iran, Qatar and the PLO told the UN
that Israel had a “racist” coronavirus vaccination program, we brought Arab
Israeli activist Yoseph Haddad to tell the truth, in testimony before the UN Human
Rights Council. UN Watch’s powerful video of that exchange has now been watched
and shared by many thousands, and reported worldwide.
• UN Watch published the first-ever detailed rebuttal of anti-Israel claims made
at the UNHRC against Israel. Our 58-page report was sent to all UN ambassadors—
to set the record straight—and will also empower other advocates fighting antiIsrael smears worldwide.
• When the Human Rights Council celebrated its 15th anniversary, UN Watch was the
only one to call out its hypocrisy, double standards, and anti-Israel bias.
• When the UNHRC’s March 2021 session held a debate targeting Israel, we launched
the UN Watch Database, a powerful digital advocacy tool that promises
to revolutionize how activists monitor the UN and combat anti-Israel bias.
• UN Watch just won an award for its social media, as our powerful tweets are
shared by lawmakers, journalists, celebrities, and activists worldwide.
When big news events happened, like the U.S. rejoining the UNHRC, UN Watch’s
position was sought out by AP, the Wall Street Journal, and other major media.
• Two days after Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro told lies before the Human
Rights Council, UN Watch organized the main response featuring a high-level panel
of experts and opposition figures. Our event was co-sponsored by several countries,
and broadcast live on UNTV.
Challenges for 2021
COVID-19 was our biggest challenge in 2020. It affected our ability to bring outside
speakers to Geneva, host side-events during UNHRC sessions, as well as to host and attend
events. Nevertheless, UN Watch continued its important advocacy at the UN. Despite
restrictions, we delivered 49 speeches at the UN in 2020, including four from outside
speakers delivered by video.
COVID-19 forced us to think out of the box and devise new ways to reach our audience
without the need for international travel and in-person contact. We have begun conducting
successful online meetings and events, including an international press conference and an
online board meeting. Our Executive Director has spoken at numerous online panels and
events, as well as in numerous online video and radio interviews. In November 2020, we
concluded our first ever online Gala Dinner with great success. We raised nearly $700,000
and had 2,000 participants from around the world. We hope to make this a regular event.
Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, we anticipate a continued need to work virtually, at least
until September in New York and Geneva, and we will seek to maximize the opportunities.
Our annual human rights summit, scheduled for June, will be held online for the first time,
and we hope to increase our audience and impact. Likewise, we will continue to organize
panel events and press conferences online, and to testify before parliaments, address
student and other audiences, by virtual video. We also intend to continue to produce
powerful videos to post on social media. To increase our impact, we are working to boost
the amount of our email recipients and Facebook followers.