Issue 624: Neuer vs. Ziegler on Dais

With UNHRC’s Jean Ziegler on the Dais, UN Watch Director
Exposes His Role as Founder of Qaddafi Human Rights Prize


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GENEVA, March 1, 2017 – Shamefully, the UN Human Rights Council on Monday honored its advisory committee member Jean Ziegler with a prominent place at the opening of its 2017 session. UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer, the first to take the floor, exposed Ziegler’s role as co-founder & 2002 recipient of the “Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize.”

UN Watch testimony delivered by Hillel Neuer, UN Human Rights Council
Opening Panel on Peace-building & Human Rights, 27 February 2017

Thank you, Mr. President. Peace-building and human rights are indivisible. As the UN Charter makes clear, maintaining peace and security requires preventing the outbreak of violence in the first place.

We believe that UN human rights mechanisms— if they work properly—have a critical role to play. If they work properly, this council can spotlight human rights abuses, scrutinize country records, and ensure accountability. All of this would act as an early warning system.

One of the classic case studies today of a state that desperately needs peacebuilding is Libya. The country has around 1,500 different militia.

The human rights situation is catastrophic. Carjackings and shootings in broad daylight are common. An EU report states that human rights defenders, journalists, and judges are being assassinated. Women won’t approach the police out of fear they could be murdered or raped. The situation is so bad that UNHCR won’t send international staff.

I would like to ask the panel: Could UN mechanisms have played a role to confront the four decades of gross and systematic human rights abuse by the regime of Col. Qaddafi, who used to torture dissidents and rape university students after he would lecture on campus?

Can the UN can draw lessons from how Col. Qaddafi’s regime in 2003 became Chair of this body’s predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights, and how in 2010 it became a member of this Council?

Are there lessons to be learned from how Col. Qaddafi’s Geneva representative became one of this council’s independent experts, and also the Chair of this Council’s Durban Review Conference on racism?

Finally, I have a question for the panel member who in 1989 co-founded the Mummar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize, and who went to Tripoli, on Sept. 29, 2002, to himself win that prize.

Given that this Council eventually reversed its policy on the Qaddafi regime, and suspended it in 2011 for its gross and systematic abuses, do you regret your actions?
The media reported that the prize was worth 100,000 Swiss Francs. Would you consider returning these funds to the Libyan people?

Thank you, Mr. President.

Key Facts: U.N.’s Jean Ziegler & the Qaddafi Human Rights Prize 

  • In 1989, shortly after Libyan agents blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, Jean Ziegler went to Libya to co-found the “Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize.” He announced it to the world. All of this is fully documented in UN Watch’s 2006 report, as confirmed by the Neue Zurcher Zeitung newspaper.
  • Under Mr. Ziegler’s supervision, the prize was awarded to anti-Western dictators Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, and to antisemites such as Louis Farrakhan and Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Muhammad. Turkey’s President Erdogan was the final laureate of the now-defunct prize, in 2011.
  • In 2002, in his second year as a UN Human Rights Council official, Mr. Ziegler himself received the Qaddafi Prize, together with convicted Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, whom Ziegler had previously praised as a “leading thinker of our time.”
  • Astoundingly, when challenged in 2006, Mr. Ziegler completely denied any involvement with the Qaddafi Prize. He blatantly lied on repeated occasions over seven years—until, in 2013, UN Watch discovered and published video evidence of Ziegler receiving the prize.
  • Ziegler has never accounted for the estimated $100,000 award money—the receipt of which grossly violates U.N. ethics rules, and for which he must be investigated by High Commissioner Zeid.
UN Watch