GENEVA, March 6, 2009 — When they meet in Geneva today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should urge Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey to withdraw her government’s nomination to the U.N. of Jean Ziegler, a former Swiss politician known for his support of a French Holocaust denier and Libya’s Qaddafi regime, said UN Watch, in a statement issued today.
“We support America’s decision to engage with the UN Human Rights Council, but that’s precisely to fight such perversions of human rights,” said Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, chair of the Geneva-based non-governmental organization, and a former U.S. Ambassador to Romania and Special Presidential Emissary on the Cyprus conflict under President Bill Clinton.
As a former member of the Swiss parliament, Ziegler was a long-time Socialist Party ally of Ms. Calmy-Rey, whose government nominated him for re-election to the advisory committee of the UN Human Rights Council, as the only candidate of the council’s Western states. The election is scheduled for March 25th.
“When Western states choose as their UN candidate a notorious apologist of dictators and one of the world’s most virulent promoters of hatred against the West, they signal defeatism in the wrong place—and at the worst time,” said Moses. Ziegler’s latest French-language best-seller is entitled Hatred of the West.
“We urge the U.S. to lead its U.N. allies in blocking Ziegler’s election, and to take back the council for human rights, and for the dream of Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
According to an article last year in The Guardian, “in 1989—four months after Libya bombed Pan Am flight 103, killing 270 people from 21 countries—Ziegler launched the annual Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize in Tripoli, boasting it was the ‘Anti-Nobel prize of the third world.’ Winners have included Fidel Castro, Louis Farrakhan, and a leader of a Ba’ath party women’s organisation in Saddam’s Iraq. In 2002, the recipients included the convicted French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, and Ziegler himself.”
According to the Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Ziegler was a co-founder of “Nord Sud 21,” the organization that manages the Qaddafi prize.
Ziegler defended Garaudy’s writings on the Holocaust in a 1996 letter that was published by the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, a group dedicated to the promotion of Holocaust denial. “I am outraged at the legal case they are making against you,” wrote Ziegler. “All your work as a writer and philosopher attests to the rigor of your analysis and the unwavering honesty of your intentions. It makes you one of the leading thinkers of our time…. It is for all these reasons that I express here my solidarity and my admiring friendship.”
Ziegler’s one–year appointment to the council last year was bitterly opposed by Per Ahlmark, former deputy prime minister of Sweden, as well as by the Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, a former minister of justice and attorney-general, who served as counsel to Nelson Mandela and Andrei Sakharov, and the Darfur survivor and president of the Darfur Peace and Development Center, Gibreil Hamid. A large group of human rights NGOs and European parliamentarians also protested, including Alexander Graf Lambsdoff, German member of the European Parliament, and the Norwegian Progress Party.