Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust Hosts Ambassador Of Israel to the United Nations
Israel and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 60 Discussed.
New York, N.Y. - Touro College’s Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust recently hosted an evening with Ambassador Gabriela Shalev, the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, at the Center for Jewish History.
At the December 17th event, Ambassador Shalev reflected on the unique moment provided on the 60th birthdays of both Israel as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a historic document approved by the UN General Assembly in 1948. The Declaration, which arose from the Second World War, represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. Ambassador Shalev discussed Israel’s work implementing the Declaration over the past 60 years, as well as its relationship with the UN.
Dr. Anthony Polemeni, vice-president for the Division of Graduate Studies, introduced the audience to Touro College and the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, noting in particular “Touro's burgeoning growth and expertise in the field of human rights and education.”
Professor Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, introduced Ambassador Shalev, who is Israel’s fourteenth Permanent Representative to the UN. When she began her tenure in September 2008, the Ambassador became the first woman to hold the post.
Ambassador Shalev discussed the value of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and said Israel’s thriving democracy underscores the importance of the document to Israel 60 years after its coming into being. She also discussed Israel’s involvement with a range of issues at the UN, such as women and social development.
"Israel has a lot to contribute to the multifaceted work of the UN," said Ambassador Shalev.
She also pointed to obstacles she said Israel faces in being treated equally among the other 191 member states of the UN, citing a “disproportionate” number of UN resolutions condemning Israel for human rights violations compared with other states. She said that equal treatment of Israel was imperative under the principles and purposes of the UN. Ambassador Shalev also expressed gratitude for the interest and support of local Jewish organizations active at the UN from the local New York community, including Touro College’s Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.
Ambassador Shalev took questions from the audience after her talk. Among the topics discussed were an upcoming UN conference on racism, “The Durban Review Conference,” (“Durban II”), scheduled for April 20-24th in Geneva; the work of a UN body – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East; the General Assembly; and controversies surrounding the UN’s ability to help combat terrorism.
Prior to assuming her current post, Ambassador Shalev served as president of the Academic Council and rector of Ono Academic College in Israel. Until her early retirement in 2002, she was a full professor of contract law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has taught contract law and comparative law in universities across the United States, Europe, and Canada. Ambassador Shalev has provided legal advice and written legal opinions for public institutions, arbitrators, and lawyers, in Israel and around the world. She was the chief legal editor of the Judgments of the Supreme Court of Israel and legal editor of the Hebrew Encyclopedia. Her contract law textbook is the standard textbook used in law schools and law offices throughout Israel.