July 17, 2023 | Policy Brief

UNHRC Special Rapporteur Report Justifies Terrorism, Ignores Israeli Security Needs 

July 17, 2023 | Policy Brief

UNHRC Special Rapporteur Report Justifies Terrorism, Ignores Israeli Security Needs 

United Nations special rapporteur Francesca Albanese released last Monday her latest assessment of “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” In her report, Albanese dismisses Israel’s security needs, calls for punitive actions against Israel, and justifies terrorism and violence against Israelis. 

The Iran-backed, U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas, declared, “We hail the speech of Francesca Albanese,” after she introduced her report at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. Hamas’ praise is unsurprising. In a report discussing alleged human rights abuses against Palestinians, Albanese did not mention Hamas by name, obliquely referring to the group as the “de facto authorities in the Gaza Strip.” 

In line with Hamas’ political outlook, Albanese began her report with a justification of Palestinian terrorism, saying that Palestinians, “as any people would – continuously rebel against their prison wardens.” Albanese then criticized Israel for prosecuting Palestinians for “merely … Throwing any ‘object,’ including a ‘stone.’” Albanese also claimed that “most criminal convictions of Palestinians have been the result of a litany of [Israeli] violations of international law.”  

While justifying terrorism, Albanese went to great lengths to minimize Israel’s security threats. Albanese described the Palestinians as an “entire occupied population framed as a security threat.” The UN investigator also declared that Israeli security considerations were a “pretext to persecute specific individuals who may challenge the occupation.” She made no mention of Palestinian terrorists murdering 26 Israelis so far in 2023, including seven killed outside a Jerusalem synagogue in January. 

Relatedly, Albanese reiterated the false accusation that Israel is guilty of apartheid. Albanese claims that “racial dualism” exists in Israeli military law, though Israel maintains distinctions according to citizenship, not race. Nevertheless, Albanese continued to rail against Israel’s “racial domination” of Palestinians. 

To give teeth to her accusations, Albanese called for punitive measures against the Jewish state. She called on third states “not to contribute or condone Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid.” The rapporteur requested countries “[u]se diplomatic, political and economic measures,” presumably including boycotts and sanctions, against Israel and employ universal jurisdiction to prosecute individual Israelis. 

Albanese has a record of provoking controversy with her antisemitic remarks. On social media, she has described the United States as “subjugated by the Jewish lobby” and claimed that the “Israeli lobby,” directed by “Israel’s greed,” has skewed media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Top U.S. officials condemned these remarks as antisemitic. In February 2023, she argued that Israel was responsible for Palestinian terrorists murdering Jews.  

But the rot within the special rapporteur office dedicated to scrutinizing Israel is hardly limited to Albanese. Special rapporteurs are expected to demonstrate “impartiality” and not “hold any views or opinions that could prejudice” their work. However, in 2008, then rapporteur John Dugard justified Palestinian terrorism as the “inevitable consequence” of Israeli actions. His successor, Richard Falk, likened Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Holocaust and earned condemnation from the United Kingdom on three separate occasions for his antisemitic remarks. 

Albanese’s special rapporteur role exists exclusively to “investigate Israel’s violations.” Of the 59 special rapporteur offices under the UNHRC, it is the only one with an open-ended mandate; it does not expire until the “end of the Israeli occupation.” The biased mandate is one of many structural anti-Israel elements of the UNHRC, including a permanent agenda item dedicated to scrutinizing Israel, guaranteeing that Israel’s human rights record is dissected at every session. No other country is subjected to this level of review. 

Despite the anti-Israel and antisemitic controversies surrounding the special rapporteur dedicated to Israel, the United States rejoined the UNHRC in 2021. Part of the White House’s rationale for that decision was combatting the council’s “disproportionate focus on Israel.” The latest UNHRC report justifying violence against Israelis and erasing Israeli security concerns demonstrates the failure of the United States to reform the Human Rights Council. 

David May is a research manager and senior research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Follow David on Twitter @DavidSamuelMay. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. 


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