NEW YORK, March 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC mourns the passing of Geraldine Ferraro, a staunch defender of human rights and the first female vice presidential candidate in American history.
"One of America's leading advocates for human rights and freedom, Geraldine Ferraro also was a steadfast friend of the State of Israel and Jewish people," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Her efforts to fight global anti-Semitism within the United Nations were especially noteworthy and laudable."
Ferraro served as U.S. ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva from 1993 to 1996. With her determined leadership, the Commission for the first time cited anti-Semitism as a human rights violation. When the Commission later discussed reforming its agenda structure, Ferraro objected to reform as long as Israel was singled out as the only country in the world addressed under a separate agenda item. The Commission and its successor, the Human Rights Council, however, have continued to single out Israel for review and criticism under separate agenda items.
Deeply concerned about the Bosnian conflict, Ferraro also championed creation of the first UN human rights investigator on violence against women.
Formerly a Democratic congresswoman from Queens, New York, Ferraro was elected in 1978, and served three terms in the House of Representatives before Walter Mondale chose her in 1984 as the first female candidate from a major political party to run for U.S. vice president.
She later returned to the forefront of advocacy for human and women's rights as vice chair of the U.S. delegation to the Beijing World Conference on Women in 1995. Felice Gaer, director of AJC's Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, served on the U.S. delegation as an adviser to Ferraro and continued to advise her on international human rights issues.
AJC extends its condolences to her husband, John Zacarro, her three children and their spouses, and eight grandchildren.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee