Issue 271: Human Rights Rogues Are UN-fit to Serve

Human Rights Rogues Are UN-fit to Serve

By Hillel Neuer
January 21, 2011

Why does the United Nations’ Human Rights Council turn a blind eye to systematic repression in countries such as Cuba, Iran and Zimbabwe? Here’s one reason: Its Advisory Committee, meeting this week in Geneva, is dominated by apologists for the world’s worst dictators.

The Obama administration is rightly calling to abolish this body of 18 advisers. It’s time for other UN stakeholders to do the same.

Expert: Halima Warzazi, who shielded Saddam from censure

According to the UN’s website, the Advisory Committee is a “think-tank” whose goal is “to ensure that the best possible expertise is made available to the council.” The experts, we are told, possess “recognized competence and experience in the field of human rights,” “high moral standing” and “impartiality.” Their decisions, the UN would have us understand, are based on principle, evidence and logic.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. A quick glance at three of the committee’s leading members — all chosen by politicized regional groups — makes it clear that they are guided by an extreme ideological agenda.

Expert: Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, hugging Ahmadinejad

First is Halima Warzazi, chosen by her peers last year as chairwoman. In the halls of the UN, the former Moroccan diplomat is noticeable for her brightly colored, traditional robes. Those who know UN history, however, remember her for something else.

In 1988, the precursor to the Advisory Committee was considering a resolution to condemn Saddam Hussein for having gassed thousands of Kurds in Halabja. It was an auspicious moment. Two years before Saddam would brutalize Kuwait through torture, murder and rape, and three years before he would kill more than 30,000 Kurds and Shiites, here was an opportunity for a UN body to show the Iraqi dictator that the eyes of the world were upon him.

But it was not to be. Warzazi initiated a “no action” motion to kill the resolution – and won the vote. Saddam went on to murder thousands more. So much for this adviser’s “high moral standing.”

Then there is Jean Ziegler, who served last year as Warzazi’s vice-chair. The former socialist politician from Switzerland has authored numerous books accusing America and the West of being responsible for the world’s ills.

Expert: Jean Ziegler, seen on the left in 1985 meeting with Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy

Ziegler is a life-long cheerleader for Fidel Castro. In 2002, he praised the dictator of Zimbabwe, saying, “Mugabe has history and morality with him.”

In 1989, as reported by Time magazine, Ziegler co-founded the Moammar Khadafy International Prize for Human Rights, with $10 million from the Libyan regime. Awardees have included Castro, Hugo Chavez and Louis Farrakhan. In 2002, the prize was given to convicted French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy – and to Ziegler himself.

Finally, there is the newest expert adviser, Nicaragua’s Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann. In the 1980s, he was foreign minister under the Sandinista regime of Daniel Ortega.

In 2008-2009, Brockmann served as president of the UN General Assembly, nominated by Ortega after he regained power. While there, Brockmann named his own official advisers, including Anti-American guru Noam Chomsky, Khadafy’s U.S. lawyer Ramsey Clark and Hamas sympathizer Richard Falk. In 2009, Brockmann designated Castro a “World Hero of Solidarity.”

In 2008, after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the opening of the UN to attack America and “deceitful” Zionists, Brockmann rushed to hug him.

And in 2009, he sided with Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al Bashir after he was indicted for genocide, saying the charge was “racist.”

Warzazi, Ziegler, Brockmann — these are the “impartial” and “competent” experts guiding the Human Rights Council, whose 47 members already include China, Libya and Saudi Arabia. Not even George Orwell could have imagined this.

Neuer is an international lawyer and executive director of UN Watch, a human rights group in Geneva.

UN Watch