The inaugural session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), June 19 – 30, was marked by the same politicisation and selectivity that plagued its predecessor. The Council adopted only one country-specific resolution, condemning Israel for military action in Gaza. (In contrast, the humanitarian disaster and ethnic cleansing in Darfur was debated without such a resolution.) The resolution demanded an end to Israeli military operations in Gaza and resolved to "urgently dispatch the Special Rapporteur." The NGOs that supported the new council and attacked Israeli and American criticism of its inherent biases (as detailed by NGO Monitor) were also active in this session.
Amnesty International (AI) applauded the outcome of the first session of the Council, which, it said, "has laid important groundwork for a stronger and more effective" body. AI also welcomed the biased Special Session on Israeli military operations in Gaza Palestinian Territories and called on the Council to "commit to concrete action to address the serious violations of human rights taking place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."
World Vision International (WVI) submitted a statement to the Council blaming Israel for problems faced by Palestinian children, erasing intra-Palestinian violence and corruption as a causative factor. WVI statement also called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza, effectively calling on Israel to halt efforts aimed at freeing a kidnapped soldier.
Human Rights Watch issued a press release of June 30 praising the special session on Gaza but also "urged it [the Council] to look at international human rights and humanitarian law violations committed by Palestinian armed groups as well." HRW further called on the council to "avoid the selectivity that discredited its predecessor." Peggy Hicks, HRW global advocacy director said "the council’s singling out the Occupied Palestinian Territories for special attention is a cause for concern…the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories deserves attention, but the new council must bring the same vigor to its consideration of other pressing situations."
UN Watch criticized the Council’s exclusive focus on Israel in its first session. Hillel Neuer, UN Watch Director, said that Council members are "showing contempt for Mr. Annan’s urgent plea to leave behind the discredited Commission’s self-destructive obsession with bashing Israel, at the expense of urgent human rights situations affecting millions of victims in Darfur, China, Chechnya, and in so many other places across the globe."