Israel and the WEOG
The Western European and Others Group (WEOG) is one of five regional groups formed in 1961 to facilitate elections of Member States to United Nations bodies. The other regional groups are the Asian Group, African Group, Eastern European Group, and Latin America and Caribbean Group (GRULAC).
The WEOG is the only regional group which is not purely
geographical, but rather geopolitical, namely a group of states that
share a Western-Democratic common denominator. WEOG membership includes Member States from North America, Western Europe, the Pacific region, and Asia.
Prior to May 2000, Israel was the only UN Member State excluded from a UN regional grouping, a result of the rejection by Arab states of Israel’s membership in the Asian Group, Israel’s natural geographic regional group. Consequently, Israel could not sit on any UN body where membership in a regional group was required, such as the Security Council or the Economic and Social Council.
Furthermore, Israel could not be elected to leadership positions on the vast majority of bodies in the UN system, where voting is based on membership in a regional group. Thus, Israel was unable to serve in a variety of positions, including as the President of the General Assembly or on any committee or programme bureau where representation was based on regional distribution. Israel’s exclusion was a clear violation of the principle of sovereign equality enshrined in the UN Charter.
However, as a result of intense efforts, Israel’s isolation in the regional grouping system began to change. In May 2000, Israel became a temporary member of the Western European and Others States Group (WEOG) in New York. This membership was officially extended in May 2004. Israel’s admission to WEOG helped to partially rectify an anomaly, where no other nation was omitted from a regional group, and marked an important step towards the full integration of Israel into the United Nations system. Israel has agreed to continue to seek membership in its natural grouping in the Asian Group (the Asian group continues to deny Israel membership).
The positive implications of Israel’s admission into WEOG in New York notwithstanding, Israel remains excluded from the regional group system outside New York. As such, Israel can neither participate in Western group consultations and meetings outside of New York nor can it nominate candidates to United Nations positions in UN bodies where elections for those bodies are not organized by the New York regional group system.
It is worthy to note that the Western group generally separates into two smaller bodies for consultations—European states meet under the European Union umbrella, while the remaining states (Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) comprise JUSCANZ. Israel, however, is not part of JUSCANZ. While Israel is admitted into JUSCANZ for the consultations of the Second Committee, it is excluded from participating in the Third Committee, and thus remains one of the few countries without status in a consultative group on human rights issues. This discriminatory exclusion violates the principle of sovereign equality enshrined in the UN Charter, and denies Israel the ability to play its rightful role as a full and equal member throughout the UN system.
For this discriminatory anomaly to be fully rectified, Israel continues to work towards its full inclusion in the region grouping system on an equal basis with all other states.
Mission to the UN, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs