Voting with the “big Boys” at the UN puts Eswatini firmly on the map
By Rolene Marks
The very mention of the United Nations is guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of most people – especially mention of the Human Rights Council. In this chamber of the absurd, some of the world’s worst human rights violators, including Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea have all held court and sat on the presiding council and some of the most ridiculous resolutions have been passed against Israel. The Jewish state has; and continues to be the focus of an obscene amount of attention – at great expense to other conflicts and human rights abuses around the world.
Last week, in this circus of the ridiculous, the UNHRC’s “Commission of Inquiry” – an investigation that was set up following last year’s 11 day flare up between Israel and Hamas, the internationally recognized terror entity that controls the Gaza strip, presented their findings. Naturally the verdict was that Israel was and is responsible for the ongoing conflict with her neighbours.
The Commission of Inquiry managed to gives as little reference to the incitement of hate and acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas and other Iranian sponsored terror entities in the Gaza strip as possible.
The Commission of Inquiry was headed by Navi Pillay, a known anti-Israel agitator who has in the past endorsed the BDS movement which calls for the end of the State of Israel, applauded Iran for signing the 2001 anti-Israel UN declaration and has been proven to have personal ties with members of the PFLP, which is on the international terror list. It is no wonder Israel refused to cooperate with such an inquiry.
Why bother going through the façade? The Commission of Inquiry was endorsed by North Korea though – and the Palestinian representative who called for the USA to be kicked off the UNHRC. It would be comical if it wasn’t so serious because some people still believe in the veracity of such an organization.
But something extraordinary happened. The United States led 22 countries, followed the next day by Australia, in a statement condemning the UNHRC for amongst other things, their “disproportionate focus on Israel” and this commission which is counterproductive to the cause of peace.
The diverse group of countries led by the USA and spanning the continents included Israel, Austria, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Hungary, Eswatini, Brazil, Cameroon, Micronesia, Canada, United Kingdom, Togo, Colombia, Guatemala, Croatia, Liberia, Marshall Island, Nauru, North Macedonia and Palau denounced the Commission of Inquiry.
They were joined the next day by Australia who slammed the UNHRC’s “disproportionate focus on Israel and the Commission of Inquiry that does not serve the cause of peace”. There was an encouraging presence of African countries who also grow weary of having to take sides when they could benefit from what Israel has to offer and play a concrete role as African Union members towards brokering a resolution to the conflict – a role which sadly South Africa who also harbours an unproductive obsession with the Jewish state, has forfeited.
What was particularly heartening to see was the amount of African states breaking with stalemates of the past to come out and take a stand for Israel. Israel, recognizing the similarities between our history and challenges to those of African countries has focused attention on growing bilateral ties on the continent. This is evident in the recent granting of observer status at the African Union (AU) and the steady growth of bilateral ties.
There is huge significance to the African states voting in Israel’s favour at the UN. It means the decades long African bloc stalemate has now been broken.
One country in particular stands out. Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) often garners very few headlines but last week the tiny, Southern African state, by voting in favour of Israel along with the leading democracies of the world made a bold statement – we are here, and we came to play. Make no mistake, each country’s vote, no matter the size or perceived level of importance, carries the same weight.
The message Eswatini sent was clear. We stand with Israel. We recognize the benefits that having ties to a country like Israel, that leads in so many areas can have for our country. We won’t be bullied by neighbouring South Africa to vote against Israel. South Africa’s major foreign policy focus for 2022 is getting Israel’s observer status at the AU revoked – a disappointing choice for a country plagued by so many challenges that the Jewish state can help with.
Eswatini, by breaking with tradition sent a strong, resounding message. Size doesn’t matter – rather it is the imperative of taking moral and principled stands at an institution that is fast losing its cachet. Eswatini has shown the country can stand alongside the world’s leading democracies – and hold its own. Eswatini has shown that when it comes to what is best for its citizens – will not be coerced. Eswatini has shown leadership by example.
The Southern African state has not only firmly established itself on the world stage but it has proven it is the little country that could – and did.
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