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Soviet Delegate Again Voices Anti-jewish Slurs at U.N. Body

March 24, 1967
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Against the strenuous opposition of the Soviet Union, which once more resorted to an anti-Jewish attack directed specifically against the chief delegate of the United States, Morris B. Abram, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights voted here last night in favor of the formation of a new office, to be called the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The vote on the issue, following a day-long debate which made a night meeting necessary, was 20 to 7, with two abstentions. The United States, Britain and Israel were with the majority. The Soviet bloc in the Commission, consisting of the USSR, Poland and the Ukraine teamed up with Yugoslavia, Iraq, India and Egypt in the opposition. France and Nigeria abstained. There are 32 members on the Commission.

The Commission’s vote culminated a long fight led by the United States and Israel. The Commission’s resolution was in the form of a recommendation to its parent body, the Economic and Social Council which, in turn, must approve the move then forward it to the General Assembly for final action.

In the course of the debate, Yakub A. Ostrovski, chief of the USSR delegation, once more attacked Mr. Abram, as he did in the discussion Tuesday, linking Mr. Abram’s attitude on the issue to the fact the latter, in a private capacity, is president of the American Jewish Committee. Insinuating that Mr. Abram “was obeying the orders of the Zionists and the Jews of America,” and charging that the chairman of the American delegation was “serving two masters,” Mr. Ostrovski called the American Jewish Committee “a Zionist organization.”


Replying very briefly to Mr. Ostrovski’s hour-long diatribe, Mr. Abram merely noted that, in the 20 years of the Commission’s existence, no similar incident had occurred, and no reference had ever been made by a delegate to another delegate’s religious affiliation. “Moreover, Mr. Abram noted, that reference was “irrelevant to the Commission’s work.”

The Russian was not the only delegate who brought up the Jewish issue during the debate. The Iraqi delegate, in a 45-minute speech, took out against Israel’s member on the Commission, Supreme Court Justice Haim H. Cohn who, yesterday, had endorsed the High Commission proposal warmly. Iraq’s delegation head chided the Israeli for supporting human rights and the protection of minorities in other countries while the Arab minority in Israel was being “suppressed.”

Justice Cohn, whose intervention on the issue had been supported by Italy and Argentina, replied that “in contrast with some other countries, my Government pledges that Israel would admit a High Commissioner for Human Rights and allow him to see whatever he wanted to see and could pledge that we would listen carefully to his advice.”

At the night session, the American point of view was pressed by another member of the U.S. delegation, Roger W. Tuby, who said that the High Commissioner would help “to lessen abuses committed on racial, religious or other grounds.”

The idea for the establishment of a United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights was first broached publicly by Jacob Blaustein, honorary president of the American Jewish Committee, in an address at Columbia University, in New York, on December 4, 1963. Later, the matter began taking form and, in 1966, Costa Rica proposed that the Human Rights Commission form a special working group to study the matter. As a result, a nine-member group was formed and met at U.N. Headquarters in New York earlier this year.

The working group adopted a set of guiding principles for a High Commissioner who, as a global ombudsman, would be the U.N.’s human rights watchdog. The group, however, left open, for the full Commission’s determination, the basic question as to whether or not such a post as High Commissioner for Human Rights was to be created. Last night’s vote on the issue brought the matter further along toward possible enactment.

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