45 rights groups urge UN Human Rights Council to fire Qaddafi-linked officials Ziegler & Al-Hajjaji

Veteran Qaddafi rep sits on mercenaries expert group meeting today

GENEVA, April 5 — An international coalition of 45 human rights groups today urged Ban Ki-moon and UN rights chief Navi Pillay to call on the UN Human Rights Council to fire two officials for their alleged actions over three decades to shield Libyan dictator Col. Qaddafi from scrutiny of his regime’s gross violations of human rights. (See full text below.)

The appeal names Jean Ziegler, a member of the UNHRC Advisory Committee, who in 1989 announced the creation of the “Moammar Qaddafi Prize for Human Rights.” When Libya’s rights record was reviewed in November, a Libyan-funded group tied to Ziegler distributed a 2010 book, edited by Ziegler, which likens Qaddafi to the philosopher Rousseau.

The 45 NGOs, mostly from Africa, also urged the council to fire Najat Al-Hajjaji, Qaddafi’s long-time representative to UN human rights bodies, from the council’s expert working group on mercenaries and human rights — which is now holding a week-long session in Geneva.

As the NGO petition circulated, a Swiss TV report last week confirmed Ziegler’s key role in creating the Qaddafi prize, which it described as “an instrument of propaganda for the dictator.” As a result, citing his Qaddafi connections, the famed Salzburg Festival decided last week to cancel Ziegler’s keynote address at its 2011 event this summer, sparking a heated controversy in Austria.

“If a leading music festival is ashamed and now distances itself from Qaddafi apologists,” asked Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch, “why is the United Nations not doing the same? Ziegler and Al-Hajjaji must be fired now if the UN wishes to retain any credibility on human rights.”

The 45 NGOs also urged the Swiss government to apologize for nominating Ziegler to the UN council in 2008 and lobbying on his behalf, despite objections voiced at the time over his advocacy for the Qaddafi regime.

The appeal follows below.




The undersigned Human Rights and Non-Governmental Organizations,

 Guided by the principles and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

Reaffirm UN Human Rights Council Resolution S-15/1, which expressed deep concern at the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Libya, rejected unequivocally the incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population made from the highest level of the Libyan Government, and strongly condemned the recent gross and systematic human rights violations committed in that country, including the indiscriminate armed attacks against civilians, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of peaceful demonstrators, some of which may also amount to crimes against humanity;

Recall that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has repeatedly emphasized the importance of accountability and the need to fight against impunity and, in this regard, stressed the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks on civilians in Libya;

Welcome the assurances of High Commissioner Pillay that combating impunity and strengthening accountability both in situations of peace and conflict will remain an important priority for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and that the Human Rights Council should be prepared to confront violations wherever and whenever they take place;

Recognize that the UN Human Rights Council, under Resolution 5/2, requires its independent experts to uphold the highest standards of integrity, probity, and good faith;

Reaffirm the declaration of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the clear responsibility of all independent experts to uphold the high standards of the United Nations and the Council;

Endorse the finding by High Commissioner Pillay that “today’s shocking and brutal situation in Libya is the direct outcome of a callous disregard for the rights and freedom of Libyans that has marked the almost four-decade long grip on power by the current ruler, and that Justice for ongoing as well as past abuses must be attained in order to be meaningful for all the victims”;

Express grave concern at the numerous credible reports that the Qaddafi regime has used foreign mercenaries to assault and kill many hundreds of its own citizens;

Accountability for Najat Al-Hajjaji

 Strongly condemn the continued tenure of Ms. Najat Al-Hajjaji, a long-time representative of the Qaddafi regime, as an independent expert of the Human Rights Council since 2005, sitting on the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights—and this without objection, then or now, by any official of the UN Human Rights Council, or of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights;

Recognize that for over three decades, Ms. Al-Hajjaji committed acts with the intent and effect of securing impunity for the crimes of Col. Qaddafi and his regime, including serving as Director of External Relations and Training for the regime-controlled Jamahiriya News Agency (JANA), a position she held from 1978 to 1991—during which time, for example, the agency broadcast, on April 28, 1980, a threat to Libyan dissidents by Col. Qaddafi that “they are doomed” unless they return home, causing scores of Libyans living in London to go into hiding following what JANA quoted Col. Qaddafi as calling his “final warning”;

Recall that Col. Qaddafi then appointed Ms. Al-Hajjaji to represent the regime at the United Nations in Geneva as Minister Plenipotentiary from 1992 to 1998, deputy ambassador from 1998 to 2000, and then, from 3 October 2000, as Ambassador and Permanent Representative, positions she used to ensure that the human rights abuses of Libya were never addressed by any resolution or watch-list of the UN Commission on Human Rights, thereby granting impunity to the Qaddafi regime;

Recognize that, in 2003, human rights groups universally condemned Ms. Al-Hajjaji’s election as Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, which provided monumental propaganda value to the Qaddafi regime, and that her tenure was seen as the last straw in the decline of that body’s credibility, prompting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to state shortly afterward that member states had joined to shield their records of abuse;

Recall that, in April 2009, when Ms. Al-Hajjaji chaired the two-year Preparatory Committee of the UN’s 2009 World Conference on Racism, and the conference’s Main Committee, she silenced testimony by a Palestinian victim of the Qaddafi regime, who was brutally tortured together with five Bulgarian nurses under trumped-up charges of infecting Benghazi children with HIV;

Condemn Ms. Al-Hajjaji for abusing her UN positions—at a time when the regime was violently suppressing its population and torturing dissidents—in order to shield the Qaddafi regime from any accountability whatsoever;

Accountability for Jean Ziegler

Express grave concern that Mr. Jean Ziegler, a long-time apologist and propagandist for Col. Qaddafi and his regime, continues to serve on the the UN Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee, which last year elected him as Vice-President;

Recall that, as documented in the 2006 report by United Nations Watch, Mr. Ziegler co-founded, co-managed, and eventually won the Muammar al-Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, which was launched in  April 1989—a few months after Pan Am flight 103 was blown up by Libyan intelligence agents, killing all 259 people on board—in a transparent attempt to change Libya’s damaged international image as a terrorist state;

Recall also that it was Mr. Ziegler who announced to the world the prize’s creation, with British newspaper The Independent writing that, “according to Jean Ziegler, the $250,000 prize will bear the name of Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi, who has provided a $10 million fund for it”;

Recall also that Switzerland’s L’Hebdo magazine dedicated a feature-length story to the prize under the heading “The Nobel of Qaddafi: Libyan authorities create a new human rights prize—Jean Ziegler gets involved,” in which it was reported that, “Jean Ziegler and ten ‘intellectuals and progressive fighters’ thus found themselves in Tripoli to set the project on track”;

Condemn the statements of Jean Ziegler made at that time, as quoted in Journal de Genève, on April 25, 1989, in which he described Libya as being in a “democratization” process, and denied that the Qaddafi regime sponsored terrorism;

Recognize that the frequent and diverse propaganda uses of the Qaddafi Prize have included the regime citing its existence to the UN as evidence of Col. Qaddafi’s commitment to human rights; allocating the substantial prize money to fund supportive European organizations, such as Centre Europe Tiers Monde (CETIM) in Geneva, whose Consultative Committee includes Mr. Ziegler; and, most ignominiously, giving the prize to an assortment of racists and heads of state that support the Qaddafi regime;

Recall that in 2006 and 2008, an international coalition of human rights organizations—including Libyan victims of human rights violations—as well as European Union, Norwegian, and Canadian members of parliament, appealed to the Swiss government to withdraw its nomination of Mr. Ziegler to his current UN position, citing his founding of the Qaddafi Prize;

Recognize that Mr. Ziegler played a significant role in North-South 21, the Geneva group created by the Libyan regime to manage the Qaddafi Prize and spread propaganda for the Qaddafi regime, in which capacity, among other things, Mr. Ziegler helped edit a 2010 book that effusively praised Col. Qaddafi by comparing him to the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a publication which was distributed by that organization at the UN Human Rights Council in November 2010, while the human rights record of Libya was being discussed;

Express regret that the Swiss government, under the direction of Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, rejected the urgent appeals of human rights groups, and proceeded to nominate Mr. Ziegler to his current UN post, despite receiving detailed documentation of Mr. Ziegler’s extensive propagandizing for the Qaddafi regime;

And do therefore

  1. Urge the UN Human Rights Council, in its current session, to

(a)        Adopt a resolution expelling Mr. Jean Ziegler and Ms. Najat Al-Hajjaji from the Council; and

(b)        Apologize to the victims of the Libyan regime for having ever elected them in the first place.

  1. Call onUN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay—as part of her commitment to uphold the principle of accountability and the fight against impunity, and her commitment to seek justice for ongoing as well as past abuses by the Libyan regime—to condemn all actions of Mr. Ziegler and Ms. Al-Hajjaji that enabled, in the words of Ms. Pillay, the callous disregard for the rights and freedom of Libyans that marked Col. Qaddafi’s four-decade long grip on power.
  2. Call onthe Swiss authorities to

(a) Urgently investigate the legality, under Swiss and international law—including in connection with the Asset Freeze required by the recently-adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1970—of all bank accounts associated with the Libyan-funded North South 21 group, located in Geneva, including the $10 million of Libyan funds reported in 1989 by Jean Ziegler as being deposited in Geneva for the management of the Muammar al-Qaddafi International Prize; and

(b) Establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the decision-making process behind the Swiss government’s nomination of Mr. Ziegler to the UN Human Rights Council, in opposition to the appeals of human rights groups, members of parliament from the EU, Norway, and Canada, and Libyan victims, and despite having received detailed documentation of Mr. Ziegler’s substantial propaganda actions, past and ongoing, in support of the Qaddafi regime.

(c) Apologize to the victims of the Qaddafi regime for having nominated Mr. Ziegler to the UN Human Rights Council and for having conducted an overt and energetic lobbying campaign around the world on his behalf.


1. Hillel Neuer, UN Watch, Switzerland

2. Yang Jianli, Initiatives for China, USA — Former prisoner of conscience, survivor of Tinanmen Square massacre

3. Amina Bouayach, Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights, Morocco

4. María José Zamora Solórzano, Movimiento por Nicaragua (MpN),

5. Marcel Claude Kabongo, Good Govenance and Human Rights, DRC

6. Ulrich Delius, Society for Threatened Peoples, Germany

7. Bhawani Shanker Kusum, Gram Bharati Samiti (GBS), India

8. Jaime Vintimilla, CIDES, Ecuador

9. Sylvia G. Iriondo, M.A.R. Por Cuba, Mothers and Women against Repression, USA

10. Daniel Ozoukou, International Conference for Nonviolence and Democracy (CINOD), Cote d’Ivoire

11. Rajesh Tandon, Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), India

12. Yang Kuanxing, Yibao, USA

13. Obinna Egbuka, Youth Enhancement Organization, Nigeria

14. Francois Ullmann, Ingénieurs du Monde, France

15. Léonie de Picciotto, International Council of Jewish Women, Switzerland

16. Ted Brooks, Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy, Liberia

17. Valnora Edwin, Campaign for Good Governance, Sierra Leone

18. Sr Catherine Waters, Catholic International Education Office (OIEC), Belgium

19. Dickson Ntwiga, Solidarity House International, Kenya

20. Dieudonné Zognong, Fondation Humanus, Cameroon

21. Sajni M. Thadhani, Mulchand & Parpati Thadhani Foundation, USA

22. Anyakwee Nsirimovu, Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL), Nigeria

23. Phil ya Nangoloh, NamRights, Namibia

24. Bose Iro-nsi, Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP), Nigeria

25. Arthur LAROK, Uganda National NGO Forum, Uganda

26. Klaus Netter, Bnai Brith International, Switzerland

27. Edward Ladu Terso, Multi Media Training Center, Sudan

28. Priscilla M Achakpa, Women Environmental Programme, Nigeria

29. Shomik Chaudhuri, Institute of International Social Development, India

30. Angel De Fana, Plantados Until Freedom and Democracy in Cuba, USA

31. Kim Nichols, African Services Committee, USA

32. C. Gautam, Nepal International Consumers Union, Nepal

33. Intigam Aliyev, Legal Education Society, Azerbaijan

34. Anne Shay, Presentation Congregation Lismore, Australia

35. Lois J. Shapiro Canter, Women WorldWide, USA

36. Gabriel Mugaruka, Human Rights Defenders Solidarity, Uganda

37. Yael Danieli, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, USA

38. Olanrewaju Suraju, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, Nigeria

39. Malcolm W. Joseph, Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), Liberia

40. Nzoyitazira Violette, Crisis Management Center, Burundi

41. Nyamiye Hermenegilde, Human Health Aid, Burundi

42. Heritiers de la Justice, DR Congo

43. Delly Mawazo Sesete, Research Center on Environment, Democracy, and Human Rights (CREDDHO), DR Congo

44. Abdurashid Abdulle Abiikar, Center for Youth and Democracy (CYD), Somalia

45. Raphael Wakenge Ngimbi, Initiative Congolaise pour la Justice et la Paix (ICJP), DR Congo

UN Watch