GENEVA // Israel became the first nation to skip a UN review of its human rights record without giving a reason, leaving diplomats scrambling to figure out how to respond yesterday.
The president of the UN's top rights body, Polish diplomat Remigiusz Henczel, declared Israel a no-show at a meeting on Tuesday in Geneva and then reconvened the 47-nation Human Rights Council to decide what to do.
Israel had asked Henczel in January to postpone the review.
"We're in uncharted territory here," council spokesman Rolando Gomez told The Associated Press.
All UN nations are required to submit to Human Rights Council review every four years. Gomez said once previously Haiti did not appear for its review, but it provided a reason.
US diplomats have said the council is too focused on Israel, which said last year that it would stop co-operating with the council because of its plans for a fact-finding mission to look at Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Diplomats from nations such as Egypt quickly pounced on the absence, and the opening it could provide for other countries that might want to bow out of a rights review. But others such as Canada said Israel's previous request for a deferral meant the country could not yet be described as being unco-operative.