Letter from UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer to U.S. Amb. Nikki Haley, Feb. 26, 2017.
February 26, 2017
Dear Ambassador Haley,
We are alarmed that as U.N Secretary-General António Guterres tomorrow opens the 2017 session of the Human Rights Council, that body will be honoring its advisory committee member Jean Ziegler—a notorious anti-American ideologue who has accused the U.S. of committing “genocide” in Cuba, supported the terrorist group Hezbollah, and is the co-founder and 2002 recipient of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize—as one of its high-level speakers, together with High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and UNDP chief Helen Clark.
Moreover, two weeks later, Mr. Eric Tistounet, Head of the Human Rights Council branch of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), will be speaking together with Mr. Ziegler at the Geneva screening of a film “Jean Ziegler: Optimism of the Will,” the publicity for which heaps praise upon Ziegler as a great “intellectual.”
We urge you to speak out and condemn the U.N.’s obscene celebration of this apologist for brutal dictators and terrorists—and to try to stop it. The United States gives some $40 million to OHCHR in regular budget and voluntary funds, and yet it seems this office seeks to insult the U.S. by honoring a leading anti-American figure.
Both of these events supported by the U.N. are designed to obscure Mr. Ziegler’s shameful record, which includes:
- In 2006, Mr. Ziegler said, “I refuse to describe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. It is a national resistance movement.”
- Ziegler has for decades acted as a propagandist for the world’s worst dictators, including Muammar Qaddafi, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe, as I documented in a 2008 essay.
- In 1989, shortly after Libyan agents blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, Mr. 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 our 2006 report, confirmed by the Neue Zurcher Zeitung.
- 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.
- In 2002, 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, video evidence emerged of Ziegler receiving the prize.
- Ziegler has never accounted for the estimated $100,000 award money—the receipt of which violates U.N. ethics rules, and for which he must be investigated by High Commissioner Zeid, who is copied on this letter.
- In 1986, Mr. Ziegler served as advisor to Ethiopian dictator Colonel Mengistu on a constitution instituting one-party rule.
- In 2002, Mr. Ziegler praised Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, saying, “Mugabe has history and morality with him.”
- According to Le Monde, Mr. Ziegler paid friendly visits to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Kim Il-Sung in North Korea.
- Ziegler was a vehement supporter of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, whose regime Mr. Ziegler hailed during an official U.N. visit, while he refused to meet Cuban dissidents.
- Ziegler embraced Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, absurdly saying recently that “he ended hunger”; Venezuelans are now starving. In return, Chavez nominated Ziegler to a U.N. post in 2004. Ziegler has a similar pact with the Maduro regime.
For these reasons and more, Mr. Ziegler has been condemned by leading authorities:
- U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power declared in 2013 that Mr. Ziegler was “unfit” to serve in the UNHRC.
- Seventy members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to the U.N. in 2005 citing Mr. Ziegler for anti-Semitism, and urging his removal.
- Ziegler was specifically named as an offender by members of the U.S. Congress in Sec. 501(10) of the draft bill entitled United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2011.
- Ziegler was condemned in 2005 by both U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and High Commissioner of Rights Louise Arbour for his remarks comparing Israelis to “concentration camp” guards. His references to Israel were, in Arbour’s words, “evocative of Nazi Germany,” and “inflammatory.”
- When Mr. Ziegler served as UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, World Food Program Executive Director James T. Morris sent urgent letters to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warning that Ziegler had engaged in “profoundly immoral” actions and “inflammatory” politics that endanger the lives of millions of starving people worldwide.
- The Swiss Parliament’s foreign affairs committee opposed Ziegler’s nomination in 2013, saying it was “inappropriate.”
Likewise, Mr. Ziegler has been condemned by numerous civil society groups:
- A group of 45 NGOs condemned Jean Ziegler in 2011 for his role a propagandist for Qaddafi, and called for an investigation.
- In 2006, a coalition of 20 human rights activists condemned Jean Ziegler’s nomination for re-election.
- Ziegler has been condemned repeatedly by leading organizations fighting antisemitism, including the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and B’nai B’rith International.
Ambassador Haley, you have spoken firmly against the U.N.’s abuse of its own founding principles.
Mr. Ziegler’s 17-year career as a U.N. Human Rights Council “expert” has been dedicated to supporting tyrannies and terrorists, and embodies the debased values of a distinct political culture.
Accordingly, we urge you to intervene against the elevation of Mr. Ziegler by the Human Rights Council with the complicity of the Office of the High Commissioner.
Hillel C. Neuer
cc: U.N Secretary-General António Guterres
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein