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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations 75 years ago this December, as was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. But that same year also saw the institutionalization of apartheid in South Africa, and the Palestine War or Nakba which displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs in the course of creating the state of Israel. What does it mean to commemorate this anniversary in a time of genocide and gross violation of human rights — particularly in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas? Until recently, Craig Mokhiber was the director in the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), where he had served since 1992. A specialist in international human rights law, policy and methodology, he worked through genocides against Tutsis in Rwanda, Muslims in Bosnia, Yazidis in Iraq, and Rohingya in Myanmar. In his resignation letter, sent October 28th this year, he wrote, “Once again, we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the organization that we serve appears powerless to stop it.” Both Israel and Hamas have now been accused of committing gross violations of human rights in their current conflict, including acts of genocide. But what exactly is genocide? And what is the responsibility of the world to stop it? In this timely episode, Laura and Mokhiber explore the promise of the Universal Declaration and ask how we can honor this historic achievement while also acknowledging the hypocrisies of 1948 — and now. What can be learned from the South African experience that might offer a way forward for peace with justice for Israelis and Palestinians? All that and a commentary from Laura on what it takes for us to recognize one another’s humanity.

“Israel is responsible for its own crimes. That responsibility does not extend to Jewish people around the world and certainly not to those who are standing up to say that this is not in their name.” – Craig Mokhiber

“We want to see justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators, but we want it to be done peacefully. And what are the peaceful means? We have legal action, we have political action, we have mass mobilizations, we have divestments, we have boycotts.” – Craig Mokhiber

Guest

Craig Mokhiber: Human Rights Lawyer, Former Senior United Nations Official

Portions of this interview are featured in our episode, “Israel, Hamas & Universal Human Rights: Former UN Official Craig Mokhiber Describes Path Forward”.

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